A Cry For Justice

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

An unusual story of God’s intervention

We are grateful to this reader for her account of how she knew when it was time to leave.

* * * * *

Just today I was reading the blog article about knowing the will of God and how many have heard God tell them its time to leave  (What Single Realization Helped You Get Free?)

My experience was a bit different to that. And in many ways it was totally weird.

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 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.

 

 

15 Comments

  1. IamMyBeloved's

    “…building myself up with counseling to a point of strength to tackle the marriage head on…”

    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.

    • Yes, isn’t that the truth! I, and many survivors I’ve spoken to, recount that in the marriage we used to say to ourselves “I ought to be strong enough to handle his mistreatment. I know who I am in Christ. I know his denigration and accusations are lies. I know I’m not as awful as he makes out. . . I should be able to let it run off me like water on a duck’s back.”
      But in so many cases, I think that kind of self-talk is a kind of denial, a kind of disallowance of our own emotions and personal dignity and value.

      Would we stay in a place where there was an extremely high concentration of carbon monoxide and expect our respiratory system to be unaffected? So why expect ourselves to be able to withstand the toxic environment of abuse with equanimity?

    • bluesinaminor

      leaving an abusive marriage is one way of tackling it. Tackling it can include working at it or working through leaving it. Being stronger in yourself (after counselling) may make an abusive marriage less demoralising but it wont make the abuse stop. and no one has to be strong enough to handle abuse.

  2. And I love how God made the decision for you while you were asleep!

    I had a somewhat similar experience when I first started to walk as a Christian. It wasn’t in regard to an abusive relationship; it was to do with a gnostic teaching I had been following (*attempting* to follow, without much success) for years — the Course In Miracles. I did not know what I should do with it, and I asked a Christian friend what she thought I should do. She said “pray about it.” Hmm, I hadn’t though of that, I was such a newbie! So I prayed, and then next morning I KNEW what to do about it. So I took the Course In Miracles book and tore it page by page and fed it into the fire.

    What amazed me was how simple the transition had been. I went to bed not having a clue, and I woke up knowing exactly what to do. God had answered my simple little prayer without putting me through any complicated analytic process: He didn’t take me down the route of analyzing all the errors of the Course In Miracles and showing me how it didn’t line up with the Bible. He just gave me the final conclusion on a plate.

    I love God!

  3. What an amazing story of God’s grace and guidance! Yes, when God makes the decision for us, then we just know!

    My story is a bit different…I guess all personal stories are a bit different… But God’s assurance was very similar. I called it “covenant release”…after many years of struggling to make a failing abusive marriage work, I had been released from the obligations of that marriage covenant.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. fiftyandfree

    Barbara, that is an amazing story. To wake up from sleep with the decision made was a blessing from God. I can only imagine the relief you felt.

    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 3 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?

    I hesitate somewhat about posting this because I don’t want anyone who’s suffering in an abusive relationship to think that they have to wait until God moves a mountain or speaks to them personally before they can leave. I don’t think it’s necessary at all for God to be as bold as He was with me. I think He had to deal with me that way because of my propensity to make fear based decisions and because of my inability to get free any other way. He deals with us individually and that is what I needed.

    • What a beautiful story. God indeed works in different ways in the lives of His people, but from most people I have talked with, it has usually been in a quiet, yet powerful and unmistakable way!

    • FiftyandFree, I am so very very glad you have posted this.

      And you did well in your last paragraph to give the appropriate cautions about applying your situation to others. Yes. God deals with us individually. 🙂

      I fully believe your story. God can manifest himself to us by words, by sight, by feelings, by giving us direct knowings. And we can hear Him with our spiritual ears and see Him with our spiritual eyes. I’ve been reading a great book about this recently: Christ Manifested, by John Fletcher (1729-1785). On the front cover of my copy, under the title, are these words “Undoubtedly a spiritual classic” Dr Martin Lloyd Jones.

      • fiftyandfree

        Thanks Barbara. I’m glad my post was acceptable. I hope it helps someone day the road as many posts here have helped me. What you said makes sense, I heard His voice with my spiritual ears! You explained it even better than I did!!

        I will look for that book. It sounds great. Thanks for mentioning it.

      • I just discovered that Christ Manifested is online. You can find it here
        http://www.worldinvisible.com/library/fletcher/5e03.0183/5e03.0183.1.htm

    • 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.

      I’ve had this happen too.

      • fiftyandfree

        Thanks Barbara. I found it on amazon dot com for 99 cents on Kindle so I’ve been reading it. So far, it’s very good. I wish I had read something like this before I met the anti-husband. It may have helped me make a wiser decision. But, that’s water under the bridge and I’m grateful for every bit of wisdom the Lord gives me in this season of my life!

        Barnabasintraining,

        I’m glad that you recognized the Lord’s voice when you heard it. Did it help you get out of or avoid an abusive relationship?

      • Barnabasintraining,

        I’m glad that you recognized the Lord’s voice when you heard it. Did it help you get out of or avoid an abusive relationship?

        No. He’s addressed other things.

  5. latoya frederick

    I guess it’s time i accept that this merry go round will never stop. the fear of intrusion, judgment, guilt, shame, rape, and the taking of my life will never go away. I pray for peace. Im angrier than i can even describe, but most violated robbed blind, of my children, their hearts, respect, and most of all trust; I finally get the look of confusion and disappointment in their eye the damage done is far to deep for a VPO to repair.
    I pray God keep and guide me and continue carrying me through this life threatening storm until I’m strong enough. . .

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