Do you dream of freedom? When I was being abused, I did. I imagined my life without the constant abuse and tiptoeing around him. What would that be like? The following is taken from my book, A Journey through Emotional Abuse: from Bondage to Freedom.
In my first marriage, I was emotionally and physically abused. I have shared this story with many people. They always listen sympathetically. One day, when I told my story to a new friend, I got a new perspective.
I told her about the morning my husband woke me by ripping the covers off my bed and screaming at me. I told him my heart was pounding, and he said “Good, maybe you’ll have a heart attack and die.” At that point, I ran out of my house in my nightgown. Later that morning, I went to Wal-Mart and bought a change of clothes for myself and all my children and a Rubbermaid bucket to store them in. From that moment forward, that Rubbermaid bucket was always in the back of my car, ready to go. I also slept with my purse and car keys by my bed, and had my portable phone book with me at all times—in other words, I began making my safety plan.
I had always felt this was such a sad moment in my life—that I had to take a step like this to protect myself from my own husband. My new friend helped me see this much differently. She said: “So, that was the moment you started taking back your life?”
I was struck by that phrase, “taking back your life.” What a great way to describe it and reframe it in my mind! She pointed out that up to that point, I had looked to other people to rescue me: the pastors at my church, the counselor we went to . . . even my husband. I had wanted them to make changes in my life so I could be safe. However, at the point I bought clothes for my children and me,
I was beginning to take the steps myself for my own safety. Tweet This
I took several more months after going to Wal-Mart, but eventually I took the following steps:
- Called the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−SAFE(7233).
- Visited my local women’s crisis center for free counseling.
- Called the local crisis center’s legal help line for recommendation of a lawyer who specialized in domestic violence.
- Visited the lawyer, and made a plan to get a restraining order.
- Went with my lawyer to the courthouse, stood before the judge, told him all the abusive things my husband had been doing, and was granted the restraining order.
- Called the police and reported my husband when he called me the minute he received the restraining order I had received for myself and my kids.
- Went to my children’s schools to show their administrators the restraining order and to pick up the children after school.
- Had the locks changed on my house, and the code changed on my garage doors and alarm system.
- Called the police and asked them to meet my children and me when we returned home to make sure my husband was not waiting for us in the house.
When we returned home from school that day, my children were understandably upset. One of my daughters had planned to drive her car from school to youth group that evening, and was very angry I made her leave her car in the school parking lot and drive immediately home with me. Since the children had also been put on the restraining order and my husband was not allowed to see them, I felt leaving her car was a safer option. Waiting for a locksmith to change the locks on every door and for the police to go through the entire house before we could enter it was very unsettling.
However, once we entered the house I felt an immediate sense of peace. I cooked dinner for the children and myself, and we all sat down together and watched a favorite television show for the first time in quite a while. My husband had kept control of the TV remote, so I had not watched TV in a year. As I sat on the couch with my children around me, I marveled at how wonderful I felt. I could actually breathe. That night when I went to bed, I lay in my bed completely alone, and I felt totally at peace. For the first time in years, I was not afraid. I was so thankful! I remembered Proverbs 17:1 which says:
Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.
And Proverbs 22:10:
Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended. Tweet This
When I work with abuse victims, I often find that they cannot get past their fear to actually leave their abusers. They can only see the negatives of leaving the abusers: the possible physical danger in which they might find themselves, the potential custody battle, the financial issues. What they often cannot see is the intense relief and peace of living without their abuser. From the moment they leave, they can begin healing.
Question: Do you hesitate to leave your abuser because of fear? If so, have you considered how wonderful it would feel for you to get your life back?
There is no doubt that leaving your abuser can be dangerous, that leaving is the most dangerous time for an abuse victim. However, there are many reasons to do it, if you can do it safely. I always advise victims to talk with a domestic violence advocate at their local DV crisis center. Here is my prayer:
I pray for protection for those currently living with their abusers. Give them your wisdom and discernment as to whether they should leave. Help them catch the vision of how different their lives could be once they are out from under their abusers. Walk with them Lord, and keep them safe. Amen.
Many blessings to you all,