A Cry For Justice

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

Elizabeth’s Story

This is a story from one of our readers. She was married to a pastor in the SBC (Southern Baptist  Convention.)  Sweet Elizabeth was abused spiritually for a long time after she made the brave decision to leave her abuser. Very few people believed her story. She is now happily re-married to a wonderful and godly man and lives a very victorious life. We are proud of Elizabeth and pray that this gives our readers hope.

!!!TRIGGER WARNING!!!

Extreme psychological, physical, emotional and pet abuse.

Here is Elizabeth’s Story . . .

A few weeks after we got married, I went shopping with my mom while “Jim” was working at the airport on a Sunday afternoon. Not being one to go shopping much, I figured that Jim wouldn’t be upset if I spent $15 and Mom spent the other $15. I called him to ask him if it was okay, and he didn’t answer. So, I left him a voicemail, figuring that he wouldn’t mind. Mom and I bought the dresses and that night when Jim came home, I was anxious to show him what I had bought and try everything on for him to see. His reaction was very unpleasant. He was upset with me for spending the money. He told me that I was “ruining his life” by spending his money . He got angry very fast, and soon, he was screaming very loudly. I started to cry. He grabbed several $1 bills and ripped them in half. Then, he stapled them around the house, next to every light switch. He told me that was to remind me to turn off lights so that we would save money. He told me that I couldn’t just “ go spend money” without first getting his approval. I had to ask him first. I didn’t “need” those dresses, and he said I disrespected him by spending without first telling him.

It wasn’t long before Jim began to direct abusive speech towards me. I soon became familiar with being told to shut up. My family never told each other to shut up, so it was so very hurtful to me. I also became familiar with being called a b*tch. He also said “f*ck you” to me on several occasions, and sometimes gave me the middle finger as well. A few times, he told me to “just go die.” Again, if I cried, he would be furious and tell me to stop it immediately. He always blamed me for making him so upset, so I believed him and thought everything was my fault. This resulted in me trying to change to conform to what he wanted in a wife.

I remember one time when we bought an old car as a fixer-upper. The steering wheel was a little wobbly, so I wanted to drive with two hands. Jim told me that he wanted me to drive the car with just one hand, as “practice.” I responded that I did not want to do that. Jim quickly got angry, and told me that if I would not drive the car with one hand, he would “slap me as hard as he could” to get me to listen. I started to cry, but drove with one hand so I wouldn’t get “in trouble” with him. The car wobbled all over the road as I tried my best to drive it the way he wanted me to.

I remember the day before Thanksgiving in 2007. I don’t remember what was going on, but I do know that my feelings were hurt and I told Jim I wanted to be left alone for a few minutes. I went into the computer room and locked the door. I told him I wanted some alone time with God, just to pray, and settle down. He told me to open the door, and when I didn’t, he started banging on it very hard. He threatened to knock the door down, and at first I didn’t believe him. It was when I heard a loud “crack!” that I opened the door. He left two very noticeable cracks in the door from pounding on it so hard.

There were several times when Jim pushed and shoved me. There were also a few times that he pulled my hair to get my attention. A couple times, he smacked me, but not enough to leave a bruise, so I thought it was sort of okay. (He never smacked me in the face). I know now that it was definitely not okay. You never slap your spouse, no matter how lightly you may do it.

We bought a puppy, and one day she used the bathroom on the floor (as many puppies do), and Jim became furious. He stood over me and screamed at me (while the puppy was standing there watching). He threw a rag at me and demanded that I scrub the floor. I started to scrub the floor, and he grabbed the rag out of my hand and said I wasn’t doing it right. He showed me how HE wanted it done, and then threw the rag at me again. Another time, I was asleep in the bed with our puppy. Jim was working on school work in another room. It was around midnight, and I awoke to Jim beating the poor animal as hard as he could. I noticed that she had chewed a hole in our comforter. Maybe I should have put her in her kennel for the night, but she was just a baby! I begged Jim to stop, but he refused. He grabbed her by her front and back legs and hit her very hard. She was yelping and crying and making sounds I’ve never heard a dog make. He dragged her on the carpet and dragged her down the stairs, where he beat her some more. This went on for a few minutes, and then he threw her into her kennel very hard. She made a loud “thud” as she was thrown against the metal bars. I cried so hard, and again, Jim said I was not allowed to touch her the rest of the night. She looked so sad and I just wanted to cuddle with her and make sure she was all right. Jim then told me that if she chewed up another comforter, he would take her out into the back yard and shoot her. He said it was a promise. It was then that I thought to myself, “What if we had children? Would he do that to them if they messed up?”

Some friends brought a movie to our house one night and it contained a lot of nudity. I was very upset with it being shown in our house. After the movie was over, Jim told me that if I thought that was bad, he would show me something really bad. I knew exactly what he was talking about, and I did not want to have anything to do with it. He took me upstairs into the computer room and proceeded to go to some pornographic web sites. I cried and cried and begged him to stop, but he told me I needed to see something really bad so I would no longer have any issues with nudity in movies. He must have scrolled through the pictures for an hour. They were so disgusting. I cried so hard. I had never viewed anything like that, and to this day, I can’t forget what I saw on the screen. He basically forced me to look at the pictures. Jim pointed out some girls on the web sites that he thought were pretty. He described some of the pictures as “beautiful” or like “artwork.” He told me that he could look at all these pictures without lusting after the women in them because he had “self-control.” However, after he finished, he wanted to be intimate with me right away.

He threatened to kill me a few times. Once, we were driving down the road and I had just about had it with his abusive ways. I told him I was thinking about moving home to stay with my parents, and he said he could crash the car and kill both of us because if he couldn’t have me, nobody could. He then proceeded to slam the small Honda into a shallow ditch. The bumper was hanging off the back of the car. He said, “See! You’re still alive!”

I finally escaped my abusive marriage after two years of horror. It has taken me a few years to get past some of this horror but much of it will stay with me for the rest of my life. The church abandoned me and the spiritual abuse went on for months. It took me a very long time to return to church and I will NEVER go to an SBC church again. I am so thankful that God brought me out of slavery and hell and has given me a new chance at life.

Elizabeth

30 Comments

  1. Bethany

    Thank you for your story Elizabeth. I can relate to so much of it. I am always amazed at how similar these abusers all are. I am glad that your story ends in success.

    • I, too, could relate so much and am always amazed at the similarities. It still shocks me that they all have the same modus operandi.

  2. Dear Elizabeth,

    It is sad and painful to read your story, I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live through it.

    Dale

  3. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog and commented:
    Many of you may be able to identify with this story.

    • Pornography was left to find on our home computer, he would file it under things like WWJD, or the name of the local pastor, when he got called out on it, he would just say he did it because “”HE KNEW, I would find it!!!!”” Like some test of his. So many disturbing directions one could go with that!

      My then three year old was set up too….. he would, to hurt me, put it under games he knew the kids would at some point during the day want to play. I soon discovered I no longer wanted my kids or myself to have ANYTHING to do with our then home computer, He brought it home from work, and told counselors, it was a neccesity, so I was stuck with it in our bedroom.

      Our church seem to somewhat caudle the porn issue, they talked about it all the time, men were so vulnerable because they were so visual, therefore women always needed to dress more conservative, if a man had no self control, he was excused by his mere nature. Just the underlying thinking presented, because they seem to portray it as a normal temptation for a guy so pertaining to his abuse. I was complaining too much about every little thing he was doing?

      Of course the ex would blame me when the three year old was pitching a tantrum because he was no longer aloud to play his video games anymore. Creating another circumstance to wreak his havock.

      • Leaving porn deliberately under a child’s toy! That is something I’ve never heard of before. But I believe it! UUUUUUGGGH Monster.

      • A New Free Life

        My mother deliberately showed me porn as a child. I believe it is an evil attempt to sexualize a child and desensitize them, in hopes of creating an unnatural curiosity and removing the natural fear children have regarding sex, as sort of a set up for eventual sexual abuse.

  4. Tee

    I am so glad you were able to get away. I am also glad you were not a prisoner for a lengthy time. Although no one should be a prisoner for any length of time. I suffered many of the same situations as many of our viewers. Mental, emotional ( I refer to the movie ‘Gaslight’ with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer) and then the physical abuse. The physical abuse seems to be easier to get over than the emotional and mental abuse. As bruises heal , concussions go away and well in my case bullets missed. But the emotional and mental abuse scars remain forever. Yes, we can get peace from God. But if someone starts emotionally and mentally abusing you in anyway the scars and horrors come flooding back. Anyone that can escape any type of abuse is a survivor, a warrior. Someone who will always need support but can also be a beacon of light and hope to others. Thank you for sharing this story.

  5. That was a hard one to read. They’re all hard to read, and not that animals are more important than people, but for some reason the account of the puppy did me in. Maybe because it is such a small, innocent creature that doesn’t even know anything but that it just wants to love on you, and he did that to it.

    Well, here come the tears again.

    • Jeff Crippen

      BIT – One of the things that the Lord has done in me over my life is increase my empathy for animals. Strange – I am a hunter too, although that seems to be fading too. We lived for years in Montana and the meat was like a yearly harvest then – we really needed it. My wife and I have two labrador retrievers, Sasha and Sadie. I could never bring myself to chain them up outside, even by a dog house, and ignore them like so many people do. They come in every evening and sit in the living room with us. Sasha has her own couch (ok we are weird). Their kennel is inside our garage – my pickup stays out in the rain.

      We have had other dogs as well – they lived very long lives and the day they died was really tough on us. So this story of the abused puppy hit me hard too. What a wicked, evil creature to do such a thing like that to a pup. People who abuse animals will abuse children too. And their spouse.

      Elizabeth got free! What an incredible exodus.

      • Yeah Jeff, I’m with you. I like to say that animals feel pain as much as we do but understand it less. When I sought a protection order against the abuser who was repeatedly threatening to kill me, the judge automatically named my cat and dog as protected parties as well, probably thanks to great documentation by the police. I took them when I left and wouldn’t have dreamed of leaving them behind. They are so innocent and need to be lavished with love, so what a horrible shock to them when someone they thought they could trust hurts them. I tend to believe there will be a special place in hell for unrepentant jerks who abuse animals and children.

      • This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a protection order that names animals as well as people! Wooohoooo! Well done, Judge!

      • I agree, often thought that myself.. Kids and animals are so special, anybody that would hurt them in anyway, emotionally or otherwise is not human at all.

      • the judge automatically named my cat and dog as protected parties as well, probably thanks to great documentation by the police.

        Good!

      • Elizabeth got free! What an incredible exodus.

        Yes!!

      • Anonymous

        Proverbs 12:10
        The righteous man cares for his animal’s health, but even the merciful acts of the wicked are cruel. (HCSB)

  6. Kay

    You are amazing! Thank you for sharing and being brave enough to walk away from that awful marriage. I agree with Bethany – so many stories I read on this sight, are so similar to mine, I could have written them. !
    The 2nd year we were married, we got a puppy. When she did things wrong, he would throw her or beat her with a stick and continued that all the time we had her. And then wonder why she peed every time she saw him. That should have been a clue for me to RUN!
    But as most women who are abused, I kept trying to please him, love him more, be more forgiving, more submissive, more patient, etc. It was always my fault! Or I was a prude or stupid or a slut or……
    Reading this post stirred up a lot of anger that hasn’t been there for a while. I had even started thinking I don’t need to read posts on this sight any more. Guess I was wrong. I think healing comes in layers and I just came to another layer.

    • Kay, animals get it. The term might sound New Agey, but they are little empaths. They are so keyed into our emotions and well-being. My cat was dealing with a serious redundant medical problem before we left my abuser and he hasn’t had that problem since, thank God. He was incredibly stressed out with the situation at home.

      Sounds like you came to realize what a lot of us gals have had to realize– no amount of effort on your part can fix a pathological personality. There is nothing you can do that will ever be good enough for them. You are damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

      • I love little empaths :) So true.

  7. Elizabeth, your story captures so much of what abuse can be like. The iconic images, the frozen in time photographic memory of certain events that were so deeply traumatizing.
    I am so glad you got out.

    One thing I really related to in your story is where you said:
    “I don’t remember what was going on, but I do know that my feelings were hurt”
    Yes yes yes. So much I don’t remember about what was going on, but I do remember the feeling of hurt and confusion and can picture exactly where I was standing or sitting at the time the feeling struck. No idea what had gone before, or only a patchy idea. I think ‘what happened’ was often so illogical and out of left field that it was not actually comprehensible. It’s like reading words that are strung together as if they were a sentence, but the grammar and syntax makes no sense.

    Try this for example:
    Up green without depending around aviary, curling hovercraft through.
    It looks like a sentence, but it makes no sense. That was what a lot of the abuse was like. No wonder I didn’t know what had happened but felt hurt.

    • Still scared

      Yes, looks like a sentence but grammar doesn’t work. Form the outside looking in people see nouns and verbs and think that it’s normal, inside you are repeatedly confused trying to figure out what is meant. Perfect!!

    • Such a good point, interesting how in counseling the question “So What is going on””, usually is directed to the victom who has know idea how to verbalize his insanity, most likely directed to the victom because they are the ones with the actually complaint against the abuse…..

      My ex, lied soooo much, he never even cared if he sounded stupid, he would just lie again about lying!!! What difference would it make to him, nobody was going to stand up to him anyways.

      Nothing he said made sense, nothing was logical, in fact even when other people looked dismayed at him, they just shrug it off, as if he was just an emotionally sensitive guy, “”So cut him some slack already”

      Nothing sank the hearts more than a 6”4 240lb monster being able to drop a tear on a dime, if he felt anybody was going to call him out. Even if he was small in stature, I think generally people are impressed when they see an emotionally vulnerable guy, in the context of an abuser its such a neat tool to gain support and sympathy.

      When an abuser receives sympathy, dont they just take that as “” I am a good guy, I am okay! I have nothing to be ashamed of!”…..

      I have heard other women though tell me, how smooth, and well spoken their abusers were. Mine was not, even when people knew he was obviously lying, because his story did not line up, they still brushed it off because emotionally he had them snowed.

    • Exactly! So often things appear to be going as “normal,” well, as normal as they ever are in an abusive situation, and then…..bam….out of left field comes the attack. That is the point at which the memories stick. I don’t think I can tell you what a single episode started over, but I can remember vivid details of the actual abuse.

  8. Pet abuse is a whole big topic in itself. For those who want to read more, here are a couple of links.
    Here is a story of domestic abuse from a dog’s perspective. It has a happy ending.

    http://www.notunderbondage.com/links/jennysstory.html

    And here is an account of very severe pet abuse. TRIGGER WARNING for this one:

    http://thoroughlychristiandivorce.wordpress.com/category/domestic-violence-2/

    • Still scared

      Yeah, no, not reading them now. He was awful with the abuse and then blamed me when his elderly dog died of pneumonia. He was sure I hadn’t taken care of him. The worst was when my 8 yo’s guinea pig was obviously dying, laying on it’s side struggling to breathe. He called me and I immediately headed home but it took me 45 minutes from where I was. Found that he had gone to take a nap and after cursing about the pet, told my eight yo to “watch him” and left him alone in the room watching his beloved animal gasp for breathe in pain. He was always threatening to kill or harm the animals but then wanted to keep everyone that came into the house. The confusion is so hard to untangle.

      • My daughter, who is now 15 is a huge tender hearted pet lover, when she was younger she told me she would go out to the street and sing and love on the local stray kitties….she told me she felt a kinship to there loneliness, they likewise comforted her….when she told me this I remember just welling up with tears, i was glad she found their comfort.

        Unfortunately, my spouse over heard her, he waited and watched until she went out again, yelled at her and told her “” Next time you go near them, I am going to string them up and skin them”” ……i wanted to kill him, for hurting her, putting her in fear for the kitties, and taking away her comfort….. his actions were the same as he did that to me over the kids…stopping me from tending to them, or going to them when they would cry for me.

        When he was gone, I would take the kids out with treats for the kitties, we made sure to walk them to a distant parking lot, a meeting place so to speak so she could know they were okay.

        She never forgot that. Today though, we have three cats, well they ignore me but love her!!! And we have a dog, all healthy and happy!

        There is such sickness and evil in somebody that would even think of hurting a loving child in that way.

      • What a story!
        and what a lovely happy ending!

      • Memphis,

        Yeah. The whole point of that was to hurt your daughter by hurting the cats. Reprehensible.

        I’m glad you and she are able to care for your four animals!

      • Mine did the same type of thing! Always bringing home a new puppy or bunny! Bought me chicks for Mother’s Day. Pretended to want the animals, but he beat them all senseless. He killed a cat and both of my goats. He laughed as he carried my one goat to her grave. I still can’t look at a Nubian without bawling. He threw my cat 20 feet and slammed her against a tree, kicked her constantly, shoved her head into the ground, etc. She now lives inside and rests comfortably in front of the fire. Our poor old lab has been hit by cars twice and nearly died. She’s had breast tumors for the last couple of years; we found out right before he left. After we found out about the tumors he kicked her in the chest and abdomen until she laid there whimpering and my big lug of a lab who doesn’t have an assertive bone in his body stood nearby growling at my husband. His loud growling was what alerted the kids and me to what was going on. You are so right, Still Scared, it is SO CONFUSING!

  9. You are a courageous woman, Elizabeth! So glad you have escaped that abusive marriage!

    Thank you, for sharing your story.

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