A few blogs ago, I described how my ex-husband came to believe in the Lord (titled Love for the Abuser). Incredibly, the Lord allowed me to be a part of his salvation. I say incredibly because for the years we were married, he was my abuser.
We were married for 5 years and had a son together.
My little boy tried so hard to become my protector, he was 3 and 4 years old and he sure tried to defend his mama. He would bring me his plastic sword and say “here, use this mama, it will help you.” He should never have been put in that situation.
The physical abuse was horrible but what was worse was the verbal, mental and emotional abuse I endured.
By the time I left, I had absolutely no self-esteem and weighed only 98 lbs. due to the stress I was under.
I began to believe the lies, and I also believed that everything was my fault. If only I were different, he wouldn’t be so angry and we could live a happy life.
It didn’t matter where we were, his temper would explode and he would attack me. One time was at my parent’s home, he was on top of me holding me down and yelling all the while our infant was crying beside us on the bed. My mom heard it and came flying into our room, when she saw him holding me down and yelling in my face, she marched over and slapped him right in his face ~ he got off of me and left, cursing on his way out.
Abusers can be very manipulative. They can treat you like trash one moment and then come back with a huge apology, a gift, a promise… anything to make you stay. Anything so they can feel good about themselves and keep you right where they want you.
No one should be abused by another, we are all made in God’s image. Abuse is a choice. The abuser is choosing to abuse you. That is not their right.
Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone. The wealthy, the poor, the white, the colored, man or woman, young or old, heterosexual or homosexual. It is more common for women to be abused but certainly men can be abused emotionally, mentally and even physically.
Let’s define abuse:
Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence. Abuse does not have to be physical: it can only be mental, verbal or emotional.
Abusers want to control their victims and they will use any means to do it. Threats, fear, guilt, shame and intimidation. They will wear you down until you are right where they want you. Afraid to state any of your needs because they don’t want to meet them and won’t. They can actually turn your need, which may be a very healthy need, into your problem. They will twist and turn every argument or need against you so that you actually begin to feel that you are the problem. So if you’re the problem, you are really blessed to have them, the abuser, because no one else would want you.
By the time I finally left my ex-husband, I was emotionally shut down. My needs and wants did not matter: what mattered was making sure I didn’t do anything to make him get angry. I kept my distance as much as is possible in a small two bedroom apartment and poured my life into our son, my work and building my brand new relationship with the Lord. I was attending a church where they believed you do not divorce under any circumstances. My Pastor convinced me to stay after my husband made countless unkept promises again and again. But the Lord literally rescued me from that relationship.
The Bible lists two reasons for divorce: adultery and if an unbeliever leaves a believer. Amazingly, the latter is what happened in my circumstance. (After I realized he was gone, I made arrangements to leave myself, he returned the next day to beg me to stay but I told him to get it together and when I saw many changes, we could reunite. Of course, the changes never came).
But also, we must take in the whole counsel of God. He hates for his kids to be abused more than he hates divorce, as we see in the book of Malachi.
And in fact, my husband had already broken our covenant by abusing me. In the covenant, he promised to love, protect, cherish, until death do us part. He chose not to do those things, he chose to break our covenant. He broke our covenant long before I ever left him. There are some heavy reasons for a divorce: adultery, domestic abuse, drug and heavy alcohol abuse. These can be very dangerous and life threatening situations. God doesn’t want us to live our lives in danger because a person who should love us chooses to abuse us.
My son – when he grew up – actually thanked me for leaving my husband.
God knew and God rescued both of us. I shutter to think where we would be today or who we would be if I had stayed. God had better plans for both of us.
Next time we will talk about the signs of domestic abuse. If you or someone you know may be a victim, please pass this on to them.