A Cry For Justice

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

Light Bulb Moments

Barb Roberts — 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 that 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 [*Affiliate link], 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?

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 [husband] 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 two of Patricia Evan’s books on Abusive Relationships and knew I could have written those books. What made the fourth 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 two years and six months, my children and I agree, living in peace and freedom is great!

Joe’s Awakening Moment — 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 — 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.

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, and 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 said, 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 [*Affiliate link] 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.

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 [much] within four months and we “reconciled”.

Fast forward five 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 ahold 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.

Jodi H explains — Even tho I had spent much time in prayer to the Lord asking Him to show me what was at the root of the problem, even after I had a emotional breakdown that was terrifying, even after my husband collaborated with my (then) pastor to do everything to destroy me, even after I started finding out about manipulative and controlling men, even after I saw my husband was 100% passive aggressive, which led me to see that he fit too many characteristics of a sociopath, even after his abuse escalated and things were unbearable for me, I still stayed — for the kids and because of what everyone would think of me. The breaking point came one weekend when he was home from his job in another state (where he had basically lived for the past three years) I saw with startling clarity how uncomfortable and anxious my kids were with him around. They wouldn’t answer him when he asked questions about conversations we had shared during the week with each other, I could see we were all in pins and needles with him in the house and no one behaved normally. The oppressiveness filled the house. I remember a text my oldest sent me while sitting in the living room with him and the other kids — “why is he reading at us?” Anyone who has lived with this will know what that is about. That is when I knew that I wasn’t doing the kids any favors and this would destroy them as well as me if I didn’t do something.

This took great courage, as I have not held a job for almost 22 years — I never finished college and never had a career (thanks to him). I had every reason to be afraid , yet I still did it…

Anon shares — I know now that my situation was strongly affected by one incident in about the 7th year of our marriage. Until that time I was aware that my husband used verbal and emotional bullying tactics sometimes and never apologized, but I made excuses because he had grown up in a home where there was a lot of religious hypocrisy. I had grown up around hypocrisy as well, but I thought we were both committed to learning and growing as believers, so I accepted his selfish behavior as just part of the growing process. One day his discipline of our two small children went too far, and in his anger he injured them. He left the scene immediately and I took care of them. I was sure it was an accident, but I struggled with what to do about it.

He would not talk about it or apologize. Aside from this one incident he never physically hurt them again. But I knew he could not control his anger and it could happen again. I felt responsible to see that he never lost his temper like that again. Whenever I tried to talk with him about our disagreements and how we handled them, it just resulted in the verbal and emotional abuse escalating. I never could call it “abuse”, because he never hit me. There were times that I wished he would hit me so that I could then get help. I thought I was “protecting” our children because most of the abuse was directed at me, but I now know it hurt them terribly. It was because of them that I finally separated from him. I did not think I had the strength or self-confidence to be able to leave, but a mother will find the strength when she needs to protect her children. The Lord showed me that I was “protecting” them in the wrong way. He provided for every step, when I did not think I could, because my church leaders refused to get involved.

Anonymous tells — I had been married for close on 30 years. I can see now the controlling was there from the start of the relationship. I guess it was about five years in I realized things weren’t great. It took me another ten to realize they were actually quite bad and nothing I did or tried seemed to work. The next ten years I continued to try and tried to get him to change too. The last five were spent realizing I had been abused, building myself up with counseling to a point of strength to tackle the marriage head on and discovering that marriage counseling is indeed the worst experience an abused woman can endure. (I will give birth four more times and raise the babies … rather than go through that again.)

We had been in couples counseling for 16 months. At the start I had stated my five specific areas that needed addressing and which I refused to compromise on. The ex promptly got me to compromise on one. I saw the compromise as a step along a journey. He saw it as a box ticked. (and I’m also pretty sure now that he didn’t stick to the compromise from the minute he walked out of the counselors office – that’s another story!)

We spent 16 months spending more time together – so more opportunities to drip his Water Torture (see Lundy Bancroft’s book Why Does He Do That?  [*Affiliate link] and more communicating. Yes, yes, a verbally abused woman needs her husband to talk to her more.

Towards the 16 month mark we missed a number of appointments in a row and his continued controlling and verbal abuse had me spiraling back to the black, dark place I had been when I first sought individual counseling. I had built myself up from this place and had vowed never, ever to return to it. So I started to think about when should one pull the plug? How did you know? I felt it was nearer rather than further away but still wasn’t sure. And I had no idea how it was going to play out.

I went to bed with nothing resolved.

When I woke up the next morning, it was like I had missed a day in my life and on that day the decision had been made that I would leave the marriage. I had not made that decision the night before when I went to sleep. I did not wake up and make it. I woke up with it already made. It is truly one of the weirdest feelings I have ever had.

God made that decision. For me, there is no other explanation. And the blessings have just continued to flow from then, so that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am exactly where He wants me to be.

IamMyBeloved’s story — I have personally thought from time to time that I was getting so much better and moving out of the constant fog and regaining my strength, that perhaps I could handle the sick and destructive, abusive and ridiculous marriage now, and even fare well in it. Yeah, really, I did. I say that, because I can hear you all saying, “REALLY?!?” But, every time I began to think that way, God revealed YET another way that he was abusing me or had abused me behind my back, or how he had been plotting some form of evil against me. I just eventually figured God was never gonna run out of things to show me, so rather than go through the ache and fear of finding each one out, in God’s efforts to tell me to leave the marriage, I just resolved to not ever go back.

FiftyandFree shares — I’ve never shared (except with my most recent counselor) how God told me to leave because I know that it would sound weird, or even crazy to many people. The truth is that the Lord literally told me to leave three times during the marriage, but I was so paralyzed with fear that I ignored Him and stayed anyway. Finally, he told me one last time and this time He made it so clear that I knew I had to leave. It would be really hard for someone who is not a Christian to understand this, but I bet you and the readers here would understand.

He first warned me through that intuition/gut feeling that I now believe is intrinsic in human beings; given to us to protect us from danger. A few weeks before the wedding I caught him in a lie, and I began to see a different side of him. I developed a deep seated fear of him. I was seeing red flags, but other than the lie, it was all very subtle and I resorted to rationalization, ignoring my own intuition or gut feeling which was telling me to run for my life.

We got married and it was hell from day one. It was a living nightmare. I won’t belabor you with all the details. (Readers here know what abuse is). One day a few months after the wedding I locked myself in the bathroom and prayed and cried and pleaded with the Lord to show me whether or not the man I married could be trusted. (I had been catching him in lies which he constantly denied and I could not prove). As I was praying I heard the Lord say to me, “You will know by the end of the day.” I can’t explain this other than to say that I “heard” the Lord speak to me, but not with my ears. It was not an audible voice, but I heard Him loudly and clearly. The words were “heard” as if they were in bold print; crisp and definitive. There was no denying it was God, though I couldn’t explain it to others and I didn’t try. Sure enough the anti-husband returned home that evening and I immediately caught him in another lie, but this time he did not cover his tracks well enough, and the proof was in his pant’s pocket. Sadly, I did not have the courage to leave him at that time, but I understood at that moment that what I had long suspected (that he could not be trusted) was sadly true, and that the Lord knew it and He wanted me to know it too.

About two years later I was pregnant with my first child and the emotional abuse and the lies were exacerbating. I was literally terrified of this man. I was agonizing over the fact that I was about to bring a child into this world with a monster and I was so afraid for my baby. One day I laid in my bed and again prayed and cried, and prayed and cried some more. I was seriously considering leaving despite the dire warnings from multiple pastors that I would be sinning against God because he had not committed adultery and he did not want a divorce. I prayed for guidance, should I leave or not, and I “heard” His voice again. He simply said, “Plan on leaving.” It was the same as before. I heard Him, but not with my ears. It was crisp, bold, definitive. I knew it was the Lord. Still, my paralyzing fear and my doubts, instilled by dire warnings spoken by pastors, kept me in bondage and I did not leave.

A few years later I was standing in my kitchen chopping onions. Things were bad. He was lying, lying, lying. I knew it but I had no proof. He told me when we were dating that he was a non-drinker but I later found out that he was actually drinking everclear on a regular basis. He was actually a high functioning, weekend alcoholic. He hid his addiction very, very well. So, as I was dicing up onions I heard God’s voice again. He said, “Go out to the shed and see what he’s doing.” I had never once in the 6 years that we had lived in that house had any desire to go out to the shed to see what the anti-husband was doing out there. I had small children whom I never left alone in the house. So this was weird. I knew it was God so I put my toddler in a safe place and I made sure the other two were occupied and I headed out to the shed in my slippers. (The shed is set back quite a distance from the house which is why I’d never been out there before.) The second I got back there I knew why the Lord sent me back there. He was guzzling down some alcohol and I caught him red handed with the bottle in his mouth. There was no denying it this time. All he could say was, “This is the only time I’ve had a drink since we’ve lived in this house,” and “It’s not my booze. Tim left it here.” Tim was a friend of his. Yeah, right. Still, I didn’t leave. I was too scared. And I was bound by what I call “Christian guilt.” I felt I had no choice but to stay and pray.

In 2010 things had gotten so bad that I felt I’d die from the stress of the abuse. I was afraid that my physical health was beginning to deteriorate and I living in such isolation and oppression that I could barely breathe. I just couldn’t stand anymore. I found a Christian counselor and while he was more wise to the wiles of abusive men than anyone I’d ever spoken to before, and he was far more understanding and supportive of me, he believed I should stay married and try marital counseling. I foolishly agreed and brought my anti-husband in for counseling. You can guess what happened. Lots of lying, followed by increasing emotional abuse and intimidation when we got home. It was ugly and I was distraught. I had this counselor I trusted, but he thought I should stay married. Or in the very least, separate and wait to be reconciled. I was sick with grief and indecision.

After the last session which the anti-husband attended I fell asleep praying for guidance. I finally decided that my only hope was to lay it all at the feet of Jesus and ask Him to show me what to do. This time I promised the Lord that I would do exactly what He asked me to do; despite my fears, and despite what any counselor or pastor told me to do. I had finally fully surrendered my will to the Lord. I went to sleep, or tried to, and this is what happened. Every two or three minutes the Lord woke me up and reminded me of a lie that the anti-husband had told in the therapy session that evening. I had remembered two or three of them and was indeed angry about them, but I had not remembered that there were that many lies. I kept falling asleep and He kept waking me up to remind me of yet another lie. This happened twelve times!!!!!!!

After being reminded of all the lies I fell asleep again and this time I slept for many hours. When I woke up the next morning I “heard” the Lord again and this time it was so shocking and so unbelievable that I could not deny that the Lord had spoken to me and that I must leave. God is so clever and He knew exactly what to say that would be so real to me that I would know it was Him. I had long been wondering and researching and praying to understand whether the anti-husband was sociopathic or not. I feared that he was, but I felt guilty and ashamed of thinking such a terrible thing. But what the Lord said to me that morning was this, “It’s a game. You’re the object. He (the anti-husband) is playing with him (the counselor), and (this is the part that blows my mind) He’s soulless.”

Soulless. This is a word I’d never heard, nor spoken in my life, but as soon as I heard it, I knew what it meant. The anti-husband was a sociopath. I was right. I knew at that moment that I had to leave. What is so amazing about this is that the Lord intentionally used a word that I had never heard so that I would know it was Him. If He had said, “He’s a sociopath, or a psychopath, or he has no conscience,” I probably would have doubted that it was the Lord speaking to me because I had often used those words myself. Instead He used a word that I had never heard, but which I instantly understood to mean the same thing.

I’ve only “heard” God’s voice four times in my life, and all four times were used by a merciful God to show me that the anti-husband can’t be trusted and that I should leave Him. The fourth time was after I filed for divorce. It was even more shocking than the previous time, and I’m sure the Lord spoke to me that fourth time so I would not cave under pressure and cancel the divorce. I won’t share those words here because they are so shocking. I will only say that I believe the anti-husband is probably what the Bible calls reprobate and I think the Lord wanted me to have peace about that because I was still struggling with guilt and shame because of all of the years of oppressive doctrine, telling me to stay, pray, wait, reconcile, etc.

We serve an amazing God, don’t we?

Tersia’s story — It was about seven years ago, when I really started talking to my “friends” at church about what my husband was putting us through and that I no longer could take it. So they gave me that book. I never really read it, just skimmed thru it here and there but got the feeling that I should not read the book. Now I am glad I did not. I was living with an abusive husband since 2000. I got to a point that I had to write down what was happening and have actual records of what was going on. I always thought that I could make it, it was just me and I was the one that had to change. But my kids starting telling me that they did not think it was wise for us to live with this mean person anymore. And what followed was amazing.

In June of 2012 I heard “it is time to leave”. I had seen an attorney about filing for divorce in June and he told me that I had to leave the house in order for him to serve my husband papers. All scared not knowing how I was going to pull this off, I was terrified. I asked the Lord to please help me through this. I know it was time and HE was telling me to leave. June 25, my husband and I had a fight on the phone about money and paying bills. I got home before he did so I started making supper. He walked in and started screaming at me. We ended up with a yelling match in the bedroom as I just had enough and could take it no more. He grabbed his wallet and took out some cash, grabbed me by the back of the head and started shoving the money into my mouth saying ” I hope this tastes good!”. I had the spaghetti spoon in my hand and started hitting him on the face to try and get him off of me as I was pinned to the bed him leaning on top of me. I got him off and grabbed my phone and called 911. Long story short he cut my lip in the process and that is what finally got him hauled off to jail after the 3rd 911 phone call in 3 months. I asked the cops when will he get out of jail and they said it could be as early as in the morning. I said,” well he will just come back here!” and the cop indirectly told me that I should not be here when he got out of jail.

That weekend prior, I had an acquaintance tell me that they were leaving town as their job had finished they were working on, and had another week left on their furnished apartment and wondered if I knew someone who needed it. I called them up and moved into the apartment that evening. Was able to stay there for the week till we were able to move into an unfurnished house lent to us for 2 months free of charge. We went and got our beds from the house before he got out of jail. While in jail, I was able to serve him with the intentions of divorce papers, an order of protection, and the state served him papers on Criminal Domestic Violence. He stayed in jail for 3 days till his dad bailed him out. He went to stay with his parents and have been there ever since. We were able to move back into our home on Labor day weekend, and he was told that he was not allowed to come close to our home at all. The sheriff had already escorted him to our home to get his things out while we were at a safe house. My family and friends have really taken care of us in many ways and I see it as God taking care of us. The Church is not the only one that has to take care of us. God speaks thru individuals to help each other out. Since then every door has opened to proceed with my separation and in 6 more months i am filing for divorce. As he speaks to my friends to get to me indirectly, I see that he has not changed and that his intentions are all wrong. He told one friend that the only way he will get me back is for him to get a job. He tells my mom to tell me to tell my attorney to put a stop to the order of protection and to realize I am wrong and to let him back home. She said NO! The kids tell me that he keeps telling them to tell me to let him back home, and their answer is NO-WAY!

I was able to give my kids the best Christmas in 14 years, all with him not being here. We are so much happier and the kids are adjusting very well. A year ago I was struggling trying to make it with food stamps, and a husband that refused to work. I have not gone a day without being able to pay my bills or buy food, and I actually have money left over after each paycheck. The Lord does take care of us and opens doors and/or windows where He wants us to go.

Katy remembers  —  I never had a moment where I felt like God said “you can leave”. Instead, I had an experience where my husband was sitting in a chair, calmly threatening me, speaking all manner of evil, and suddenly his voice went “mute”. I couldn’t hear what he was saying but I could see his lips still moving.

And I had this clear-as-a-bell thought in my head: “He’s leaving you now. Will you rely on Me?”
and I said (in my mind, in despair) “On Whom else can I rely?” and then just like that, the sound button was back on, I could hear all of my husband’s insults, etc.

That was my experience. It was more like a warning of what was going to happen, like preparation. And it all came to pass very quickly after that. It was very scary, but I tried to remember that God told me to rely on Him.

Ella Walker shares — I was married to an abusive man for almost 20 years and have been through the same thing with different pastors… I was raised in a tradition and religion that does not permit divorce and/or remarriage for any reason and I felt totally trapped for most of that time. After 10 years of going to pastors and counselors (those affiliated with my church) I came to the realization that pastors have no clue how to deal with abuse. With God’s help and the help of some dear friends I was finally able to break free. It was no small thing to take my five young children and leave him and it felt like a giant leap off a cliff in the dark but God was faithful in taking care of us. The church leaders and people that I thought were supporting me turned against us which was devastating to my children because they were so relieved that we were leaving and they couldn’t understand why everyone else couldn’t see that it was necessary.

I can look back now ten years later and know that it was the best decision I ever made for myself and my children. I was able to go back to school and get a bachelor’s degree, a long-time dream of mine, and am now a mediator.

Desley tells  — These people (shelter staff) were the hands of Jesus for my family when the church failed. I first went to the church for help about five or six years ago. Then last year my while my husband was yet again abusing my son I put my face on the floor, and angrily pleaded with God and asked Him why He was not intervening since I was trying to be submissive to my husband. I quoted His promises back to Him and asked why He wasn’t keeping them. Then out of nowhere an almost audible thought materialized in my head – the most rational and clear-cut thought I had ever had concerning the issue – and it simply said “you can leave. ” I was waiting for Jesus to change my husband or make him leave, but I had never even considered leaving myself with eight children. That would take faith! That would take strength that I didn’t have!

It was during that episode that my neighbors called Child Services. My first worker was a Christian woman who worked previously with trauma victims from the military. She helped me to understand the consequences this was having on my son, as well as my other children. She showed me how my son’s behaviors were the product of years of abuse. She also drew a connection between my husband’s behaviors and my persistent suicidality and depression. She then walked with me through the journey of learning to trust myself and my intuitions, as well as trusting in the various social services available to me. They later connected me with the woman’s shelter to learn more about abuse when they felt I was ready.

These people have been such an encouragement and motivating force throughout this whole situation.

I thank God for His provision for the abused. He really is faithful and does not abandon us. And I am not wandering away from God or turning to idols by learning from their expertise or accepting their help; I am following the still, small voice of Jesus.

Sarah’s story — Believe me I have tried everything and exhausted all options to help my husband – prayer, fasting, healing/deliverance ministries for us, having other ministries pray, endless confession of God’s Word (such that I had to buy a new bible because I couldn’t bear to look at my old one as it was full of notes I had written about what I hoped for in our marriage), Christian and secular books, counseling. The list goes on. I want God’s best and I am glad I have tried my best to make things work and upheld my side of the marriage vows. But I sincerely believe we should want God’s plan and not ours. God spoke to me to move on from my marriage. At first I did not want to believe this as it was outside my theology to think He could possibly say such a thing. I cried out for confirmation and He confirmed it again. I have been taught I should check all leadings we believe to be of the Spirit against the written Word of God. Through Barbara’s website, A Cry For Justice, the writings of Danni Moss, Dr George Simon, Lundy Bancroft, David Instone-Brewer and many of the other resources I have found linked from ACFJ, I know believe that God can in fact confirm that a marriage has been destroyed by the abuse of a husband.

D. Anne Pierce tells  — I have been dealing with the sexual abuse that I experienced during my 27 years of marriage… and my husband and I were missionaries overseas. When I finally found the strength to leave my husband (God actually said to me through a sermon “Go now!”), the mission agency sent a member care person to try to convince me to go back to my husband, even after I disclosed some of the abuse that had been occurring in my marriage. They did not try to help me heal from the abuse…they basically wanted me to just go back to my abuser.

When I refused to go back, the agency asked us to resign, and I was left with no home, no transportation, no income and no health insurance. It felt as if I jumped off a cliff, leaving everything I knew behind. I did know however that God was at the bottom, hands open waiting to catch me, and catch me He did!

The next hurdle was when the national Pastor of the church that my husband and I had planted 15 years earlier, told me that I could no longer counsel people in the counseling center that I helped to start and I still directed. He believed my husband and never asked to hear my side. To this day (five years later) he has not asked to hear my story or minister to me.

God is good though and when the church or humans let us down, He is there, faithful and loving, ready to heal us and restore us. God is the God of redemption and grace!

Not Too Late’s moment — I am certain it was the Spirit who convicted me of staying in the marriage! I had a very clear warning about the consequences of not leaving. It took me a while to obey, because I thought it couldn’t have been God. It was only when I carefully searched the Scriptures that the puzzling urge from God to leave the marriage was seen for what it was – an urgent call to save our lives. He was and still is in the business of saving lives.

Soldiergirl’s story —  I got over my fear of my husband by realizing he was “playing me” for his pay off.

I was 100 percent invested, and seeking truthful answers, and he was messing with my head and spinning the truth into a lie to keep me off balance. It was hard for me to take a stand at first because I more easily would defend my own children before I would defend myself. I was too discouraged to defend myself.

But one day I was out in the back yard trying to make sense of it all, and I recalled a scripture from the bible that was mostly used to inspire people,- and started thinking about it. It was “God is for you, He is not against you”. and then I realized at the same time that my husband was against me, and his behavior showed that he was defiantly not for me.

So I thought to myself how odd that these two ( God and my husband) influences in my life contradict each other. And found it baffling. And then I recalled another scripture that said “let every man be found a liar, but let God be true.” So I concluded that since my husbands ideas about me didn’t begin to line up with what Gods word speaks about me, well then he must be the liar.

I thought about all the wasted years I poured into this marriage only to realize all the “gas lighting” he did during the marriage to make me doubt myself and my perceptions, and how many opportunities I had missed out on, due to his manipulation, and how many friends he scared away so he could control me more, and how he undermined my parenting skills, and caused my children to fall way short of their potential, and how half of them don’t even profess to believe in God anymore.

I started to realize that there was also a innocent little girl inside me, that was ruthlessly “taken advantage of,” and mistreated, and I needed to step up and be the “Big sister” and defend her. (since nobody else would)  I became determined to become that person, and get her out. I am not out yet, but am making progress towards that goal, and I hope that someday you can find a way out too.

*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.


  1. peggy

    Praise God for all of you and your encouragement.

  2. Lynn

    Thank you all for sharing your story, and for having the courage to obey God, and follow his will for your lives.

  3. Z

    I am going through the decision to divorce as I type. I have been married for more than two decades, have a few children and I have spent the many years homeschooling them. I went back to school to have the financial means to leave this man who has taken me across the country so there’s no family around. His family has abuse issues as well, so there’s never been support from them. I have now achieved a pretty high educational qualification but still have not landed a job. At this point, my emotional state has reached its limit, I have felt God calling me out of this marriage for all of it (2 wks before the wedding I told my best friend that God was telling me not to marry this man because of his abusive behavior and being unequally yoked, but I feared it was too close to the wedding, and being quite young, I panicked and married him anyway).

    For years, I thought it was my punishment almost, I had not listened to God when I had the chance, and needed to basically “suck it up” and deal with it as I was unequally yoked and I had disobeyed God’s will in the first place. Years of prayer, trying to be “the good wife,” and trying to bring normal into a very dysfunctional family did not work. I began to feel more and more drained, and the stress continued.

    Fast forward to today, I am at the end of the rope, he’s been trying to “win me back” with false affection and flattery as he senses I am emotionally not there. This angers him and he goes back and forth between “I love you and cannot live without you,” to you are such a this or that (words I won’t repeat). I plan on going to the attorney that I have chosen. I am afraid. I don’t have a job yet even though I am still diligently searching, and know that God is with me. I see the better side of all of this stress and I cannot wait, but for now, I also see losing financial care and it is a scary thing. I hate that he’s had control over my life as he has, and he knows this.

    I pray God will continue to open doors, provide encouragement, and allow all of this stress to be the last season of misery so I can spend the next chapter of my life, being me again. Happy, no secrets, me. Thank you for your comments. I was blessed today at a church I attended with my daughter to meet a woman who used to attend our “home church.” She had told my story, in her own and there was no doubt, God’s hand had allowed our paths to cross in such a way today. Thank you all for the honesty, and encouragement!

    [Eds: Screen name altered and details disidentified, as a precaution. ]

    • Hi Z, I changed your screen name for safety’s sake. Welcome to the blog, and thanks for sharing. We hope you continue to comment and read the blog.
      I recommend you read our New Users Info page for tips on how to guard your safety while commenting. And check over your comment above to see how I did a bit of disidentification of it. We often do this for new readers, till they get the hang of disidentifying themselves.

      Bless you, and thanks for joining the blog. 🙂

  4. AyeNon

    Thank you so much for sharing your stories…I too stayed in an abusive marriage for 22 yrs.

    I am now just “defrosting” as my friend calls it — waking up to the reality of what I survived through. Years of every kind of abuse… I am going through divorce just now after so many agonizing years of counseling, lying, placating….counselors insinuating that if I was just a little more accommodating things would work out — meanwhile he was making friends with them!
    His position won him much favor.

    I understand that I was married to someone soul-less. That struck me. He has only darkness in his eyes — now I understand why.

    Worst of all, he is a pastor — one who seems to be beyond reproach in this world anyway. God is a just God and I know that He knows. His day will come.

    I am encouraged by the fellowship of believers and the Word. Praise be to Him!

    “For your Maker is your husband-the Lord Almighty is his name-the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth, The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit-a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God.

    God is so good — he knows our stories and ministers to us in such a precious way! May you all be encouraged!

    • Hi sister, welcome to the blog. Please visit our New Users Info page and read it carefully. I changed your screen name to AyeNon for the moment, but if you want to change it to something else, email TWBTC.

  5. Zoe

    This is my first time posting – so glad I found this site. I have been so encouraged by your testimonies of how God led you out of your abusive marriages. I lived with abuse for 34 years, but five months ago God rescued me! He is faithful.

  6. SBM

    I had a friend who was encouraging me to leave. I was conflicted and had no peace until I read some verses in Micah which spoke to me. Especially Micah 2:10

    Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.

    • twbtc

      Hi SBM,

      Great verse!

      And welcome to the blog! We like to direct commenters to our New User’s Page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting.

  7. Citizen of Heaven

    Blessings everyone.

    I thank GOD everyday for this blog, HE led me here for not only fellowship with other believers / HIS children, but also to share and to obtain information and confirmation of what is happening in our lives.

    I was married to a narcissist, but only came into an understanding when I was 40 years old. If I had known sooner, perhaps I wouldn’t have wasted so many years suffering and trying to understand what I was doing wrong, and what this was / is that we are dealing with. I read a book [which awakened me to] narcissism and everything lined up. That was my AHA moment. I went back and forth between belief and non-belief as I just could not wrap my mind around this condition. (Cognitive Dissonance). As time went on, I stayed of course, but continued on finding out what I could about Narcissism and other disturbed characters. I read on one particular website, that the Narcissist is the cousin of a serial killer, well, that did it for me.

    After me ex realized the gig was up, the abuse escalated, and the mind games were really bad. My son found me in tears on the bedroom floor. I was so ashamed and embarrassed and I knew he would not understand what I was going through, so I kept quiet, BUT, I was making plans.

    I rented storage and packed little by little until it was packed tight. I bought what I needed as I went along. I applied for housing, he stole my application and all other pieces of mail that came to the house. After stealing my application, I had to wait another year because I missed my scheduled appointment. My housing counselor then advised me to get a PO BOX, which I did. I was then able to get all of my letters so that I would not miss any more appointments.

    I waited another year, but He tortured me the entire time. He then asked my son to purchase a pistol for him. (My son of course refused), but came and told me immediately! I really really realized, that this is the truth! The cognitive dissonance lifted and the date of my departure came quicker than expected. I left one day while he was at work, and the next time I saw him, we were in divorce court finalizing the divorce.

    I WAS FREE! I never looked back at him. Those feelings that kept me bound to him for years was now gone!! The story does not end there unfortunately. Three years later, I met another one. (Did not marry him). I could go on and on about this, but I wonder if anyone has ever felt surrounded by these types of people. My supervisor at work is the same, cruel without a conscience. Friend who I thought were friends are not who they appear to be. WHAT IS GOING ON? I totally isolate myself out of fear of coming into contact with another one. I know the enemy will use anything and anyone to come against us. It seems to be relentless. Has anyone else felt the same?

    I thank GOD for this website and the family here. GOD is my best friend and I thank HIM for leading me here so that I can be with family. (We may not know one another, but we are a family).
    Thank you.

    • Hi CoH, welcome to the blog. Sorry it took a little while to publish your comment. We needed to edit it a bit because we don’t publish recommendations to books or resources unless we have vetted them ourselves.

      Since this is your first comment at the blog, I encourage you to read our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      Also, if you want to know more about our publishing policy, click here.

    • Curly

      Yes I feel the same way. I’m surrounded by abusive evil women and their allies in my neighborhood. One ring leader and four of her followers. She is an Evil bully who turned neighbors against me. Even one neighbor who claims to be a Christian. I finally told my so-called Christian neighbor how bad the evil bully treated me, a Christian neighbor who has Bible studies at her house. I’m so sad because so-called Christian neighbor who I thought was my supporter is now friends with my abusive neighbor and the other allies. I can relate to you when you feel like these people are everywhere. I’m so sad because I feel like I have no friends.

      When I meet new people I pray for discernment and my prayers are answered. Unfortunately I see their treachery and know that I must have nothing to do with them.

      • Curly

        One more thing to add. I kept quiet and didn’t tell anyone about my abusive neighbor. When I finally did tell my “Christian” neighbor she was supportive of me. Not anymore she’s now friends with the bully and her allies. I’m so sad.

      • Curly —– (((hugs))) if you want them.

  8. Brooklyn

    I went 20 years without uttering a WORD of my abuse to anyone. Not even my best friends. I have much to work through, including securing an income. I’ve been a stay at home / home school mom. This week I finally told three friends, one of whom works with women that are abused. I feel free. I have bottled up so much for so long. My health has suffered and I KNOW its from the stress. I also know that a confrontation with the husband is coming soon. I want to have my ducks in a row when I do it, because if it doesn’t go well I have to be prepared to leave. I’m thinking of doing it in the form of a letter in a public place. He is a master at debating and twisting my words so I’m thinking a letter may be the best way to do this. Any opinions on that? Either way, I just know that if he doesn’t get help I don’t have to live like this.

  9. Friendinneed from Europe

    I trained myself not to talk about the abuse. later in church I did. As soon as they recognised the abuse it was well addressed. I am now already five years by myself. My healing began five years ago. Stalked, physical abuse, verbal. The first education came from this site not under bondage.

    Stand in Dad
    The last six months I have been used / asked to be a “stand in Dad”. There are now several of us who do it and also some moms.
    So two weeks ago I was asked to attend to the barbeque, because the mother had a twin. Some weeks before we went to the pool with a whole bunch of sporty parents. So I sow, so I will reap.

    Theatre / drama
    In my own walk towards healing from PTSD I was sent to theatre school and did 1/2 of a year. My employer paid for it. I had difficulty to handle noise and shouting. This has strongly improved as a result.

    Helping others
    We have as a church one mother whose ex does not understand exit. She divorced him because of his anger attacks and pornography disorder. He meets the description of a narcissist. Instead of allowing this mother to take another pounding we thought of something new. From the local theatre she has been offered a “stand in partner”, who will pose as her lover / spouse. She agreed shortly we will see the results.

    New court case
    Very soon my ex will be in another court case. This time for embezzlement and frauding with alimony. This means that I am getting money back and my ex turned out to be worse than I thought. I am trying to relax a bit, I have nowadays a bucket of cold water in case my ex decides to make a call on me. O yeah and if I win this case, my ex fool could be sentenced to pay for my lawyer who needed to protect me from the abuser.

    • Thanks Friendinneed from Europe 🙂
      Glad to hear you are having those nice things happen in your life 🙂

  10. J.

    Not sure what to do. I keep asking God what His will is. I know that in my heart I am done. But I feel like things aren’t bad enough to leave. My kids aren’t suffering, it is all at me. I have been thinking of confronting him about his behavior and seeing how he reacts. But I have been in limbo for three years. He can go for long instances without incident, and then he will make passive aggressive remarks, be very secretive about money, etc. But it is nowhere near what others suffer, and is it enough. I am trying to be open to God’s will if He wants me to stay because He is working on my husband’s heart. But I personally want out and am only thinking of confrontation as a way demonstrate to God that I will stay if he wants. But gosh, limbo is making me sick.

    • Hi J.
      Yes, limbo is hard. Confronting is hard. Leaving is hard. Staying is hard. … And the decision is yours and no one else should make it for you. And that’s hard too! But one thing I’ve observed: many victims report that they have ‘waited on God for His guidance’ — and that’s fine! — but at the same time I think God has given plenty of guidance in His word already for victims of abusers so why is there a need to wait for more? It seems to me (and this may not be true in your case, I’m only speaking generally) that for some victims part of the problem is not being able to make an independent decision to leave without having that decision being approved by others. And self-doubt is one of the things abusers and the abuser-enabling church has drilled into us — which compounds the problem.

      You may find it helpful to read Lundy Bancroft’s book Should I Stay Or Should I Go? [*Affiliate link] You can find it on our Resources here.

      Also here are some posts that may help you think through what you want to do.
      When do I submit and when do I stand?

      How do we know the difference between God’s conviction and self doubt?

      Is there biblical grounds for divorcing an abuser? — Eternity magazine

      I left him because I loved him

      The Erroneous Idea that Leaving is “the easy way out”

      I see the abuse. I realize I have no boundaries. How do I navigate this?

      If any of what I’ve said is not useful, just put it away. 🙂

      By the way, if this is your first comment on the blog, Welcome! And we always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      *Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
    • Chilled

      In very much the same position as you, J. I don’t feel like it’s “bad enough” and the kids would be devastated to “lose” their dad from the daily household. Although Dad has his own issues w/ them, of course. (Your kids are probably suffering too even if they’re not targets.) Thanks for sharing about your experience. I hope by now it has resolved for you one way or another and I wish the very best for you.

  11. Anonymous

    We were married 7 years and had so much fun together and were very happy together except for this dark thing going on. We both had previous marriages with adult children from them.

    From the beginning, he started drinking with the neighbor and would come home intoxicated and verbally abusive. I forbid alcohol in the house, but he just went across the street to get his alcohol or picked it up on the way home. He lied when I would ask if he was drinking, but I could eventually get proof or he would later admit it. He was very controlling and when I tried to spend time with my adult children from the previous marriage, he would find a way to ruin it. I endured frequent intoxication, verbal abuse (which means he might yell at me for an hour or more about anything and if I tried to leave the house to get away from it, he would restrain me), tantrums, physical violence like tossing an item like a knife that would bounce around, knocking my phone out of my hand, or raising his fists in anger, and cursing me.

    I did not want to have another failed marriage and I believed that I could help him with the alcohol and that it would cure the abuse. I did leave [multiple] times before. Most of those, he called and begged me to come back and agreed to getting help and I would come home the next day. Within a week, he would not get the help and be right back to his usual. I also endured his suicide threats and he had a loaded pistol at all times. He kept loaded guns everywhere and carried a loaded gun. The intoxication, violent temper, and loaded gun put me in constant danger.

    I left one time for a longer period of time and then he made promises to deal with the alcohol abuse and I came back. He went to AA this time, but right after I came back, I caught him drinking whiskey or intoxicated. I blamed the abuse on alcohol, but I learned later that alcohol isn’t really the cause. The way God told me to leave was that I started singing “Take me out to the ball game, 1, 2, 3 strikes you’re out.” Well, the last time, I had to flee my home [some] other times due to his violent episodes. After one of the times, the Lord clearly said to start separating out my things, so I went through the closets and put all my things in one room.

    I was clearly warned that I might have to flee and not be able to separate out my things. The [number airbrushed out] and last time, I left he forcefully pelted an object at the windshield right in front of my face. I realized that the next time, I might not be behind [protection]. When I got to my parent’s house, my father said “3 strikes, he’s out” not knowing I had that song stuck in my head. I did have a hard time getting my things and I realize now that I was hearing from the Lord about separating out my things. The Lord knew I was going to be leaving in a few days, but I did not. It has since been really hard and I have to resist going back….his emails and texts and letters have been remorseful and pleading for me to get counseling and to separate rather than divorce. Since we were actually really happy apart from that aspect, I am having to be really strong. I am actually very depressed after leaving and and struggling a lot with missing him and wanting to go back. My friends and family don’t understand since he was so mean toward me. I don’t know if it is traumatic bonding or what, but I know he is capable of extreme violence toward me with the temper and lack of self-control he has toward me.

    I realize that I belong to God and I know that He loves me and would not want my life to be taken or ruined with this man who chooses to walk in this evil manner.

    [Airbrushing of some details done for the safety and protection of multiple individuals. Paragraphs added for clarity. Editors.]

    • Reaching Out

      Hi Anonymous,

      For your safety and protection, I have slightly modified the screen name you submitted with your comment, as well as airbrushed some of the details.

      By doing these slight modifications, not only are you (and some individuals you refer to) kept safer and more protected, more details of your testimony can be told.

    • Dear Anonymous, thank you for sharing your story. 🙂 Please forgive me for not responding to it sooner.

      What you went through in that marriage was similar in some ways to what I went through in my second marriage, though you went through far more bad stuff than I did. The first year with my second husband we had lots of fun. After that it gradually went bad because he went back to what I now believe was his first love – alcohol. Misuse of alcohol does not CAUSE abuse, but it does make the abuser more dangerous.

      I believe my second husband had a great deal of the entitlement attitude and the resistance to taking personal responsibility that is at the core of the abusive mindset. I had not recognised those attitudes in him at first. My recognition only came by slow degrees in the second year of the marriage, and only when he became physically violent to me did I REALLY wake up. All that is now a long time ago and I have grown from the experience.

      In your comment you wrote:

      I am actually very depressed after leaving and and struggling a lot with missing him and wanting to go back. My friends and family don’t understand since he was so mean toward me. I don’t know if it is traumatic bonding or what, but I know he is capable of extreme violence toward me with the temper and lack of self-control he has toward me.

      In my observation and experience, it is fairly common for victims of abuse to feel that kind of depression and ambivalence when they finally separate from their abusers. You might find it helpful to read these links:

      What about reconciliation?

      Deciding to stay or leave (or go back)

      The myth of Stockholm Syndrome (This discusses terms like ‘traumatic bonding’.)

      Chains that bind us to betrayal and the key to being set free.

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