A Cry For Justice

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

The Exodus of Survivors

“I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.”

One reason people remain enslaved to domestic abuse is fear. With every reason to fear, we remain at the mercy of an abuser. Or so we think. For those in Christ, this is a tremendous deception. We are no longer at anyone’s mercy, but God’s. When I began listening to the song, “No Longer Slaves” by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser, from which the opening phrase of this post is taken, I began to see more of what it means to be free in Christ in my life. I am on the road now of finding out more about what that means and putting it into practice.

In the journey of their exodus from Egypt, the people of God were beset with fear. We all know the story, but victims of abuse know it very well. The fear that affected the Israelites fleeing Egypt is similar the fear we have when it comes to exiting abusive relationships. Just as Pharaoh and his forces came after God’s people, so all too often we are sought after by the abuser when we attempt to exit. The abuser and the abuser’s allies make innumerable attempts to retrieve us and put us back under bondage. The flags are flying sky high as we come out of the fog and begin to see how sick our lives have been. Some abusers will stop at nothing in an attempt to completely destroy their victims and this comes in a myriad of ways. Courts are inundated with attempting to unravel the truth. Judges are trying to uphold the law while their confusion abounds. And the law often is weak, providing many loopholes for abusers to manipulate it to their wicked agenda.

Abusers are believable people, just as Satan is. If the lie were not mixed with an element of truth, no one would ever believe an abuser. It is sufficient to say that gaining our exodus from the abuser is a long tortuous journey. I know of no one who left an abuser who was able to leave quietly or with their lives and finances still intact. The job of our enemy is to incite others to do us harm in an attempt to destroy our faith, or at least give it a good shaking. Can any of us truly say, “Boy, I am sure glad that I rested and trusted God through all of that without any fear”? No, because abuse erodes our faith and trust, even in God and brings us to a life filled with fear. Unless one has survived this type of fear from abuse, they cannot know it. Comparing fear of going to the dentist to the fear we have had of our abuser, just does not cut it.

One point that stood out to me in particular about the story of the Exodus, was the crossing of the Red Sea. The song states it this way:

“You split the sea so I could walk right through it. My fears are drowned in perfect love.
You rescued me and I will stand and sing, ‘I am a child of God’.”

While our abusers chase after us in an attempt to bring us back into bondage, God opens the sea to freedom and allows us to walk right through it, on dry ground. This is a symbolic picture of our deliverance in Christ, from all bondage! Our strength lies only in our God and His ability to do what we simply cannot, which is to gain our freedom. We fight this battle on a spiritual level, just as God’s people did then. We do not fight in the flesh. Our war is in the spirit. We stand and say, I am a child of God and all that entails! We focus on what we know and the truths of God. We put on our fighting gloves (Eph. 6) and make our way through, with Christ before us. The fight looks like this. Always choosing to obey God and allow Him to fight on our behalf. It is recognizing that our enemy, with the abuser’s cooperation, is at work through someone we believed we could trust and who would love us. We become confused and foggy in this, because it is hard to wrap our brains around the fact that we are dealing with someone we married in good faith, not knowing what lay ahead for us.

While it is all too often true that the courts, churches and others, including family, do not deliver justice to victims or their children, we can know and trust that deliverance and freedom that God gives us from living with the abuser is the end goal for us. We can only look to Him for that and ignore sources that would ever advise us to live in bondage to abuse. We may lose everything material on the way and even emotional and physical things in this agonizing process, but our end is deliverance. Our end is knowing we are His and He will perfect that which concerns us.

Exodus 14 speaks of the terror facing God’s people and His direction for how to go through and get away from Pharaoh and his armies.

Fear not. Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord,
which He will work for you today.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.  (Exodus 14:13-14)

As we know, this does not mean that we just sit and wait. We must take action and the necessary steps to freedom from abuse. Remember, God’s people here in this story moved. Their deliverance and freedom from Pharaoh and his armies came that day. But they had lived through a long, long battle in attempting to gain their freedom, prior to this day. They did not sit in their homes and wait, saying “God has put me here, so I must just sit, suffer and stay”. They moved at God’s direction, and there is more than enough biblical evidence for us to know that God wants us to move when living in abuse.  They had to move forward and walk through the sea. That was their only hope of being delivered and free. But God set it up. He did the work behind the scenes and as we know, annihilated His and His people’s enemies.

In Exodus 14:14b — you need only to be still — the word rendered ‘still’ can be rendered ‘silent’ or ‘holding your peace’. It can also mean to be deaf or mute. In the context of exiting life with an abuser, it can mean to make yourself deaf to all the noise and turmoil the abuser is hurling at you, or to be silent and not retaliatory. It can also mean to “plow under”. It appears to me the best interpretation for this passage would be to hold your peace in God and to deafen yourself from all the abuser’s attempts to make you think he holds all the power. In reality as a Christian, God holds all power over us as His people. We do not believe in dualism. God and Satan are not equally powerful deities in battle against each other. God has already won. We learn what He has for us in deepening our relationship with Him, when we have to go through the battle (working out our salvation in fear and trembling). God is able to use this evil for our good, to build our faith and trust in Him and to know Him more intimately. Wait for Him to come in like a rushing wind with deliverance on His wings, while you act in faith and remain pursuing your freedom from abuse.

God led me to these passages at the beginning of my departure, now many years ago. At first, I was so afraid that I could only fret. But as time went on, nearing the end when my final exit would come, I knew I could trust Him. Did everything go smoothly? Of course not. When we are dealing with the devil, there will always be turbulence.

the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt. (Isaiah 57:20)

Satan comes in like a flood, inciting abusers — with their permission —  to never give up tormenting us. But, we are God’s people. We are His chosen. He will deliver us.

In closing, let me just share that I am still in the thick of many things and suffering repercussions from the fallout of decades of abuse. But I know who my God is and I know who I am in Him. I have taken my place in Him and I know that I am no longer a slave to fear. He is true and faithful to His promises and performs all that which He has declared to me to be His nature. I have chosen to trust and remain calm, knowing that He is always good, even when things look incredibly bad. If you can, let that be an encouragement to you, coming from one who has pounded down the path before you.

So, why or how did I come to make this choice? What equipped me?

Because I came to believe and understand – I am a child of God.

*****

This post is written by “IamMyBeloved’s”.  Many thanks to her for these words!

Related posts:

Exodus and Freedom from Abuse

Do You Want to be Healed? (Part 4 of Jeff’s Wise as Serpents sermon series)

Don’t be discouraged. Victory is ours. — by Ps Sam Powell

 

23 Comments

  1. Beauty

    This post really hit home with me! I and my children are newly escaped. There was so much fear to work through… intense fear of being abandoned and homeless with no resources. But also fear that I wouldn’t be believed, that I would lose my children because he always said if I got help, (counseling or put the kids in school) they would take the kids away. But finally I reached the point where I was more afraid to stay than risking all those other things!

    However, what I discovered is that when I abandoned the false security of remaining in the relationship, went no contact, used the supports available to flee, spoke the truth unwavering, God prepared the way in advance. The court did not fail me – even in the face of someone who normally rules in favor of fathers! God went before me and moved the heart of the “king” in the way He willed it to prove that He is in control and He is the giver of all good gifts and to show me that He can be trusted.

    The struggle is not over, I know the enemy won’t give up that easily… but I now have a restored faith in my Heavenly Father and know I can trust the details to him. I’m not going to go back and start trusting the earthly man, his paycheck, his promise of love or fake apologies at the expense of my dignity and self respect and quality of life. That was slavery! God is holding me now in the sweetest space. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good! Truth has set me free from the law of sinful death. He’s set my foot on a rock. God is my fortress. I run to Him and I am safe! I don’t know how parenting time is going to work out. I don’t know what I’m going to do for a job after being a stay at home mother over a decade. I don’t know where I will be living in 6 months time. I know God has me. I know as I acknowledge Him, He’s going to make my paths straight. Blessed by the name of the Lord! He parted the seas so I could walk right through it. I am drowned in perfect love which has cast out fear. I am a child of God!

  2. KayJay

    Exodus 14:14. Thanks so much. I really needed this affirmation today!

  3. Many times the exile for the abused is physical death. When God had seen enough He steps in and exiles the abused through caring people. The physical and emotional pain the abused goes through will end when my sister finally lets go to be with her savior.
    Not until God showed me my brother has been abusing my younger sister did I realize the depth of his character.

    My sister is currently in ICU being taken care of by professional servants, sent from God.
    When she passes on I will still have to deal with his character.
    I now understand the previous trials God uses in our life to help the hopeless.

    Onward Christian soldier!
    God will never leave us or forsake us.
    His promises we can hang onto.

    • Oh! I am praying for you, for her, and the whole situation.

      • Rising Light

        Thank you for posting this. Please know that you are not alone in your grief… so much pain in knowing someone we love has been subjected to cruelty, to evil. Praying for your heart in the midst of this grief.

  4. anonymous

    Experience has taught me how being a slave to fear did paralyze me. It kept me at the mercy of my abuser, and he knew it. Seems it was only after I no longer cared if I lived or died that ALL my fears went away. I will admit at the time being ashamed for having to get to the point of desperation before taking action to get away from my abuser. And of course a question all too familiar to us is, “Why do you stay?” Sadly, we know the answer. I was also ashamed because I felt I was lacking in my faith but now, I know it is a brutal reminder of how deep down in to the pit abuse can take us. When I did cry out to the Lord asking for courage in spite of my fear, I was able to step out on faith to find solid ground.

    Your example of the exodus from Egypt is heart-pin-to-the-heart accurate for the way in which our Lord provided an escape from bondage. As victims of abuse we know all too well the many unknowns we face while contemplating and planning to escape. Our grief-ridden minds are filled with fog, fear and confusion. And let’s not forget the shame and embarrassment we feel for having ‘failed’ at ‘marriage’ and dreading the do-nothing churches and family and ‘friends’ who will stand in judgment of our decision to leave because after all, we could have done more to make it work!!

    Looking back to biblical examples of God’s great plan and deliverance, I was always fascinated with Abigail (Abi). She certainly displayed that being around a fool did not leave her without choices even though her fool most likely thought he was large-and-in-charge. What jumps out at me with Abi is the SWIFT action she took, she wasted NO time. Recently I read, “God trained Moses in a palace to use him in a desert. He trained Joseph in a desert to use him in a palace.” I believe He trained Abigail in a marriage to a fool to use her as a shining example of one who takes courage in the face of fear. She needed to rely fully on the Lord absent any help from her fool for a husband. Imagine how differently history would be recorded were it not for the quick thinking of one woman. Her courageous actions speak to my own heart in wanting to imitate her.

    And I also think of queens Esther and Vashti. Vashti although knowing she would face severe consequences said NO to being devalued, demeaned, disrespected and dishonored. And Esther went before the King knowing fully it could be to her demise. She said it herself, “If I perish, I perish.” I mention these three women (and there are many more) because I think they all faced tremendous fear and unknowns and yet, they did not allow fear to paralyze them. As it turns out, God had a perfect, predestined plan all along and I believe He does for us, too!

    “As we know, this does not mean that we just sit and wait. We must take action and the necessary steps to freedom from abuse.”

    When I first returned to my home state after fleeing from my abuser, a dear friend watching me stumble along in a complete fog and broken-down physical, emotional, mental and spiritual state of mind said this to me, “I being on the way, the Lord led me” (Genesis 24:27). I was being encouraged to go forward in faith and that HE would lead. Indeed He has!

    IamMyBeloved’s, thank you my dear sister in Christ for such a beautiful reminder as we continue to heal and journey forward, we are indeed a child of God!!

    • Thank you for this wonderful comment, Anonymous 🙂

      Readers may like to know that we have a tag for Abigail.

      And of course we have recently featured a sermon series by Liam Goligher on the book of Esther. Find those posts under our tag for Esther.

    • anon

      The people who believe you must always and ever submit to your husband even when he is in sin, find ways for excusing and explaining away the fact that Abigail went behind her husband’s back to save the day. Yet she is praised as a woman of honour in the Bible. This is proof to me that God never requires us to submit to our husbands ‘no matter what’. If they are asking a sinful, unreasonable, oppressive thing that is against the truth of God, I do not believe God wants us to submit.

      Recently on a difficult day with a lot of abuse and feeling just dead inside I opened my Bible for solace and found it on the story of Abigail. I know God was comforting me that He will deliver me and that my deliverance is near.

      • Anonymous

        Just imagine the scene: Abi is riding her donkey into a mountainous ravine seeing David and his men descending toward her. In David’s anger he is threatening had she not come quickly, come daybreak not one man would have been alive. This scenario displays great courage in the face of any fear Abi may have experienced. What a moment it must have been!

        When we spend time at the feet of Jesus we are promised the wisdom we need for all things and when Jesus plants this knowledge in our hearts and wisdom to apply, we can step out in faith knowing we are finding favor in His eyes. How it frees us up to go forward in boldness and in the reality that we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus, just as Abi did!

        Her actions demonstrate she had great insight to realize she COULD NOT CHANGE her fool BUT neither did she allow her fool to define her. She most likely suffered much heartbreak over such a man and yet we do not see any self-centeredness or self-trusting in her. She put aside a lot of pride to defuse a delicate situation and did what was right to protect her home; and we know she knew that to check David’s anger was to protect him from losing his place in God’s plan.

        Yes, there are those who will say she went behind her husband’s back to which I say Bravo! History would have played out dramatically different and all because her fool was passed out in a drunken stupor.

        Just as a diamond in the rough once refined shines brightly against the dark backdrop, so it is that Abi is a woman who took her place in history and whose footsteps we should long to pattern.

  5. Song of Joy

    Thank you for this post. 🙂

  6. TuffEnuff

    Oh my goodness. .. All day I have been thinking of how afraid I was to start the divorce process. I told myself that I was a coward and I should be ashamed of myself. And then I pull up this website and the very issue I need help in is laid out beautifully. God is good. Thank you for this message.

    • Hi TuffEnuff, welcome to the blog! 🙂

      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.

      • TuffEnuff

        I have done so Barbara. And I have your book. Thank you.

  7. Freewoman

    Wow, this blog was spot on for me. So encouraging and straight forward. I appreciate that it’s not “sugar coated”, but truthful. I have just filed for a limited Divorce (b/c my state requires a year of separation before you can file for Divorce), and my husband seems to want 2 things: 1)come back and live like I was under the abuse or 2) have ME say “I want a divorce” so he can blame that on me too.

    You find out who your friends are real quick! Sadly, our Christian friends have been the worst to me.

    Grateful for this blog and the courageous ladies that lead the way for me! 🙂

    • Jeff Crippen

      Freewoman – changed your screen name just in case you didn’t realize it would be visible in your comment. Indeed you do find out who your friends really are! Blessings on you as you move to freedom.

    • MarkQ

      I used to have a fixation on who filed for divorce. When I read Boundaries I saw the truth. When the marriage is broken, why does it matter who acknowledges it first? The way they put it… is God somehow pleased with a broken marriage? Does God want a couple to put up with a broken and unloving marriage just to check some box? This truth is even more significant when abuse is at play.

      In my background, I think it is considered to be a reflection on church leadership when a couple divorces, and that’s why they would rather have a false marriage.

    • Welcome to the blog Freewoman! If you want tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog, read our New Users Info page.

    • Not Alone

      Freewoman, I think I am at almost the exact same place as you. And this just happened again to me today: “Sadly, our Christian friends have been the worst to me.” You truly do discover who’s more like Jesus, and the most disturbing part is the non-christians have been the most Christ-like to me. Such a shameful thing for the body.

      I keep finding myself paralyzed, afraid to make this move or that move in case it makes things worse. There are so many factors at play in this process and the logistics alone are so overwhelming, nevermind the emotional mountains we must clamor through. But God is faithful!

      Y’know what my son did when he hopped in the car and caught me crying? He actually sifted through our music to find Michelle Tumes’ Healing Waters, and turned it up a little bit and played it for me all the way home.

  8. NC friend

    Excellent! Thanks so much for taking the time to put your discoveries into such an encouraging, intelligent post. You have encouraged me with truth that often gets bogged down and muddy for me. Thank you sister!

  9. Bitter But Getting Better

    Beautiful post and perfect timing! I have been away from my abuser for 7 months now and I still get fearful. This helped! God bless you all @ CFJ!

  10. Content

    That song has been huge in my life. God has used it tremendously to confirm the work He’s been doing in me for a few years. The lyrics and the strength in how it is sung just seem to impart courage into me when I am feeling weak.

  11. Memphis Rayne

    Hmmm…A beautifuly well written post. I am such a baby. In the deepest of deeps, God did not leave me stranded, but everyone else did. I could not even come close to verbalizing the inexpressible despair…It’s been 8 years since i was there, walking around like a shell, completely traumatized, hallowed out…..this is great, reminds me how God actually did give me His comfort, He told me He would save my children [Eds — we presume Memphis means God told her He would save her children from being given into the custody of the abuser], He told me that whoever waged a war against us would fall…..I got to where going to church was the last place on earth I would ever enter into. To this day, I am confidant I feel the same. Nonetheless He is not in those walls. He met me way outside of what man created.

    This was very nice. I am really glad to have gotten the chance to read this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: