A Cry For Justice

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

Another abuser grooms, deceives, marries and abuses her. DyingStar’s story Part 2

Many thanks to our friend Dying Star for sharing more of her story. You can read the first part of her story here. She is writing as you can see in a historical present tense. Trigger warning.

I am 22 years old. I am going through a divorce from my first abusive marriage when I meet my second abuser. I have no clue what the next few years will be like.

My mother is dying from cancer. My father has lost his job, and it’s all my parents can do to live off unemployment and pay the nearly $1 million in cancer bills for my mom’s care. I feel scared, worried, and very uncertain of the future. Mark comes into my life, and I feel like he brings stability in a time when I’m very vulnerable. He is quite a bit older than I am, and he works with me. He definitely knows all the right things to say, and in no time at all, he has swept me off my feet. Flowers, sweet notes, and he even programs my computer at work to have sweet messages pop up when I log in to my computer, as he is the software developer for the company I work for. This is it, I think. I have found the one! Within a year and a half, we get married.

It doesn’t take long for me to realize that Mark is a very jealous person. He bites and pinches me, saying that it’s just a joke, telling me he’s leaving his mark on me so people will know that I am his. The bites and pinches leave bruises, and people start asking me why my arms have black and blue marks all over them.

My mother has since passed away, and, being adopted, I reach out to try and find the birth mother who gave me up. It was my mom’s dying wish for me to find her since she knew that she wouldn’t be here for me. I find her and we have many phone conversations trying to catch up for the years lost. Mark gets very jealous, and he starts counting the minutes I spend on the phone with her, even though those minutes were spent on my 45 minute commute home from work and it doesn’t cost anything extra. He also begins to count the number of text messages I send to her and other people, and compares the number of text messages on our phone bill to the number in my cell phone. He goes through my phone regularly, and when he notices the number of text does not match the number on the phone bill, he interrogates me.

He has a drinking problem and it is very evident. Whenever I get home in the evenings, he is always drinking. He works five minutes from our home, and I work 45 minutes away, but he tells me that because his job is more stressful and because he brings in a higher income, the bulk of the cleaning and maintaining the house should belong to me. I should be very grateful for him providing a six-figure income, he says. He goes behind me and wipes his finger on the furniture looking for dust and inspecting my work, after I clean, almost always telling me I need to do better.

His punishment of choice when I do something he doesn’t like is the silent treatment. He sits away from me and refuses to show any affection or love, and won’t communicate, but rather, sits there staring off into space. I feel like nothing I do is ever good enough and trying to win his affection is the hardest thing I have ever done. There are no more flowers or kind notes or sweet words from when we were dating. No, it’s like pouring water down a rat hole trying to make this man happy. It’s a never ending struggle.

Being a people pleaser, I try to keep the house spotless, but there are many nights I’m tired from driving 45 minutes each way to work, and I’m also expected to cook dinner most nights. One of his rules is that there must be two vegetables cooked with every meal. This is something, he says, his first wife would not do. He always talks about how fat and lazy she was and what a terrible person she was. I later find out that none of this is true, as I talk to her myself. She is a cute, bubbly, very happy girl who has a lot to offer, and he tore her down.

He monitors how long I walk the dogs, and tells me it needs to be at least two miles a day. It’s never his responsibility though, it’s always put on me. He often spends time upstairs locked in the spare bedroom playing video games. Eventually, I started finding evidence of pornography he has viewed, although he denies it and tells me it must have accidentally downloaded. I know better. He tells his parents that I accused him of viewing pornography, and his father called me on the phone, telling me I need to apologize to him, that he would never do something like that, and then begins to blame me, saying I must’ve been the one that looked up those videos. Over the span of our marriage, I have noticed his father is very controlling and dominating over his mother, and his mother suffers from severe depression, and I think that is the main reason why. The pornography makes me feel like I’m not good enough, as he must want to look at other women for fulfillment.

When he drinks, Mark gets more and more belligerent and angry. And he drinks very frequently. One night, he starts verbally slamming my birth mother and telling me that eventually, I may have to choose between him and her. His parents back him up on this, telling me that I may have to choose between him and my biological family. I try to stand up to him for once, and I tell him that if he’s going to be like that, maybe I need to leave for a while to sort things out. He jumps out of his chair, lunges towards me, grabs my shoulders, and slams me up against one of the square columns in our big, beautiful, very expensive house. My spine hits the corner of the column as he shoves me against it and I can’t move. I am terrified as the wood digs into my back and spine and he grabs my arms with every bit of strength he can. I finally manage to wiggle out of his grip, but he grabs me with both arms and squeezes me so hard and in such an angry rage that he is shaking. I begin to suffocate, as he has my mouth and nose sealed off. Finally, he lets me go, and I am hyperventilating and walking in circles. He tells me that I’m doing it for attention. I truly can’t help it, how I wish he would see that. He tells me that if I tell anyone anything about that night, he will divorce me. Not wanting to be alone, not wanting another failed marriage, I don’t tell anyone.

The next morning, I wake up and go into the bathroom and see that my body is covered in bruises. It is almost summer, so I have to wear long sleeves to work to hide it. This isn’t what a marriage is supposed to be, is it? How could I have made the same mistake twice? All I ever wanted was to be loved. I know that I have a lot to offer a partner. My parents taught me how to be a loving person, and although I’m not perfect, I want a happy marriage and to be in love and share my life with someone who loves me back. And, if I leave this one, who would possibly ever want me? Especially with me only being in my 20s.

What’s more, who would believe me anyway? He seems like the nicest guy you would ever meet to anyone who doesn’t live at home with us. He holds doors for old ladies, knows everything right to say, and seems very mild-mannered. No one knows the violence I live with at home. I keep asking myself why he hurt me like he did. After all, when we first started dating, he actually had tears in his eyes when he told me he couldn’t believe the things my first husband did to me, and how he would never lay a hand on me. And now look at what has happened. Shortly after this incident, Mark tells me he wants to buy a handgun. I keep wondering why he wants a gun, as he has never had one before. It frightens me.

Not long after this incident, I finally get the courage to leave. Mark tells me that I need to pay him thousands of dollars, even though he has over $100,000 of his own in the bank. His reasoning is that there was a short time in the marriage when I did not work, and I need to reimburse him for, as he puts it, taking care of me. Not wanting to argue, I write him a check for the amount he asks, emptying my savings in the process. His parents hate me, and by this point, he has told everyone that I cheated on him, which I did not. He has made up things about me and made me feel so humiliated. I just want to crawl into a hole and die.

I’m 26 years old, and I have left my second abusive relationship. I don’t know it yet, but another abuser will come into my life.

Go to Part 1

***

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14 Comments

  1. Sharon

    I wish I could reach thru my computer screen and give you a great big hug. You are an amazing woman, and I cannot believe what you have endured. So many more stories need to be shared. So much more doctrine about abuse needs to be taught. I too, had parents with a good marriage… I didn’t marry until 41, and it was long distance for quite a long while. God used that time to save me and my children from exactly what you have described.

    I am so sad that you have had to suffer,. and I am proud of you, for being willing to leave! and to be willing to share, in order to save someone else. God bless and keep you and cause His face to shine on you, and give you peace. Lord, please let this beautiful woman feel your loving arms surround her today.
    Much Love!
    Sharon

  2. Herjourney

    Pornography is a marriage killer. A porn user pushes a few key words and the woman he views does what he wants her to do.
    My ex would spend hrs away from myself and family. When I came in at one point he had written on a piece of paper – F you.
    Red flags are there.

    The abuser does not love his wife. He loves his sins more! He will do whatever it takes to hide his secret life from those who are closest to him. The silent treatments are a way to control and hurt his victims. Emotional abuse in a marriage is devastating.

    I am learning to trust again. To speak truth and tell my story to others who will listen and believe that there are evil men and women who masquerade as a kind and giving. But behind the mask are controllers and will do anything to get what they want. The abuser feels entitled to high status and money.

    I recently took a trip to find out what my gut was telling me. I stood up to the abusive female who throws flattery around her to get what she wants. Sickening. Not one person in her circle of influence would dare cross her with the truth. [But] I did. She told me she and her soon to be husband actually did not want me at her wedding because I did not attend a function she was speaking at. Her fiancé believed her story. I did not.
    This abuser threw a tantrum and verbally abused me…
    She [recently] married to secure her future status.

    Confirmations will cost time, and God will use you on your journey.
    Please use the gifts God gives you. He will lead you! to encourage other hurting people. Walk by faith. Don’t quit! Day by day trust His plan.

  3. Helovesme

    I had to go back and read the first part of her story so that I could ease into the 2nd part. I cannot thank you enough for sharing. Please know I am praying, and I hope to hear the rest of your story as it unfolds. It’s incredible, massively brave to share as you are. My story is NOT as severe as yours, yet I could relate to many things you said: I just want to be loved and love someone in return. Trying to get him/her to love me is a waste of time though I try so hard. Nothing works, nothing stops the abuse. Why is he/she doing this to me? This is not the same person @ all to the outside world. I am being painted as the bad person. If I just acted better, treated them better–this wouldn’t be happening. No one will believe me if I tell my story. I’ll be branded as “too sensitive” or “too emotional” or “too high maintenance.” I need to be tough, let the abuse roll off my back, and carry on and carry forward (that part is more my experience) And who would ever want me—damaged goods now?

    I too struggle badly with being a “recovering” people pleaser. I am now asking the Lord to undo all the damage that was done—in my choosing to be a people pleaser and from those that took advantage of it. Leaving me feeling cheap, not worthy, “useful” until the need was met, and ignored/neglected when my own personal trials came around. I felt drained, manipulated and traumatized when it was all said and done. And lonely. And ashamed. Badly, deeply ashamed of myself. I felt responsible, even though I didn’t see how. I blamed myself, thinking that I needed to be tougher, stronger, smarter—more confident. Admitting that I was hurt, or offended—somehow seemed to make things worse. I got too afraid of being branded as “rebellious” or a “troublemaker.” I was afraid the Lord would see me like that, too. But I felt like a piece of furniture—moved around, shoved around, sat on, or kicked—and I was supposed to just sit there and take it as if I didn’t feel anything. As if that didn’t bother me. As long as I was “serving” their needs, that’s all that mattered? But boy, I felt bruised and beaten down.

    The more I gave, the more it seemed to signal to those persons that I could be taken advantage of, and treated as inferior—because I usually did not stand up for myself. Or I was too afraid to and tried to be good Christian—overlooking the offense and not taking anything personally. Many times I was too afraid to say “no.” I was taught to please, appease and not be a “bother.” To give, and give, and give some more—but not to dare expect anything in return. If I disappointed someone—I shouldn’t expect any love. But the bar was set too high for me. I inevitably fell short, and inevitably I ended up hating myself. Blaming myself. I guess that is how badly I wanted to be loved, but I kept trying to earn it—instead of being freely loved in return—I kept trying to “bargain” for it!

    I’ve also heard from others and myself have stated how “I am not perfect,” and for a long time I never realized what a crazy thing that is to say. Jesus was perfect, never sinned—and look what they did to Him. And He never asks us to be perfect, or expects it—so why should anyone else? That is not a license to “go nuts” and sin without restraint—but that’s also not permission to put anyone on a pedestal and put impossible expectations on them. I felt like I was trapped inside a tight, almost too small bubble that was about to burst.

    Amazingly, when I would cry out to Jesus—He didn’t try to “smooth” things over or say I was exaggerating. I believe He spoke to me and told me that He was with me in that bubble. This didn’t mean He was happy with it, and now I believe He is working to get me out. But even though it was too small for me & I felt suffocated, somehow there was plenty of room for Him.

    • I cannot unsee what I see now

      How my heart hurts for your pain. I have found great healing by working with a Christian psychologist who “gets” the crazy making of abuse-especially by one who looks so good to the outside community and claims to be a serious Christian. I was told often that I wasn’t taking responsibility for my part in the failure of the marriage. I had done that along the way for 3 decades. My counselor said, “It is a given that you weren’t perfect in the marriage. None of us are. But that is much different than being abusive and unfaithful.”

      I have been gratefully divorced for nearly a year. It has been hard with my adult children, my ex got the church and has trashed my reputation in my small community, confused and upset my siblings, etc. And it is still worth it! I was sharing a bit of my story with someone from out of state who has known my ex and I for years recently on the way to the airport (she is a precious unbeliever). I said, “Can you understand why I finally quit trying to make the marriage work?” She said. “You didn’t quit trying. You escaped!” Sometimes we don’t know the enormity of the load we are carrying until it is lifted…You expressed common feelings so beautifully. Thank you!

  4. Moving Forward

    What a heartbreaking story, and it’s not done yet. You are a survivor. I’m at the other end, being married to one person for decades, and the pain is just as extreme. Whether it is one or three, we all so desire to be loved and cared for by someone, and to learn one has given one’s life (20+ years) to someone who cannot and will not love, is devastating.

    Just as you feel no hope that anyone will want to love one so young who has divorced twice, I feel no hope that anyone will look at one so old, especially with a bunch of children. A part of me wants to take no chances of going through what you have, but a part of me mourns that I will never feel that love that is unique to a man loving a woman. I can only lean on God and His love, and know that He will make all things right and new some day. But it doesn’t stop the heartache.

  5. Psalm55

    I was almost driven to suicide because of the shock I suffered as I discovered the depth of deceit that had been hidden from me for more than a dozen years. If it wasn’t for his own daughter talking me out of it, I wouldn’t be here. When his daughter found out we were separated, she called me and asked me “what did he do now?” I said “what do you mean what did he do now?” She told me that he has a history of lying for several decades and has manipulated women in his past, using and abusing them. His porn addiction started long before I met him. The addiction was so severe when he was married to her mother that they ended up losing their home and their bank account was wiped out. They were married for nearly two decades which I find disturbingly familiar.

    This was the beginning of a series of events that caused me to act in irrational ways out of shock and panic. I made bad financial decisions … I was forced to sell an asset because of divorcing and I thought that I would receive half of the equity. I was cheated out of that because my ex-husband is a very skilled con artist that had his lawyer convinced I was the abuser in spite of the protection order being against him. Not that a protection order is worth anything. He has violated it and the prosecutor is not going to do anything about it. I’m sure he heard a sob story but again I can’t prove anything. So now I’m not even going to try to protect myself. If my ex chooses to do what he threatened, then I’ll just have to accept that it’s the will of God.

    Before all that happened we decided to get a legal separation. I was shocked at what I found and was living in a fog. I couldn’t believe how he betrayed me, and had been during our entire relationship.

    I reached out to the church only to have the pastor, who even admitted that he knew about my husband’s abuse and pathological lying, turned against me too. This pastor admitted to me, before he turned against me, that he always knew there was something off with my husband and did not trust him. This pastor also told me that he felt my husband was a dangerous man, suspected that he was a sexual predator and told me that I needed to leave him.

    When I decided that I was finally going to leave him I document some his conduct [details redacted] for my own personal investigation. The way I was able to document it enabled me to verify that he was deliberately omitting information that would have implicated him as an abuser. It also enabled me to study the fine nuances about the way he spoke when he wanted to evade accountability.

    When my husband tried to go around to the people he slandered me to, some were in the congregation, the pastor called him and told him to stop doing that because people in the church were complaining. Because my husband couldn’t try to Redeem Me by talking to these, he decided to share the documentation I had obtained to try to recruit allies among the people we know. I agreed but I didn’t realize this would make me look bad too. So now the congregation and that Pastor also turned against me. I would run into some of them …. and they would give me looks of scorn and disgust.

    To make matters worse he was punishing me for the crime of discovering his secrets. I’m surprised I’m still alive because of the daily trauma I went through during the divorce and even after. He still covertly uses other people to find out things about me, these people give themselves away without even knowing it.

    I know some people don’t want to believe me, or even listen to me, they would rather believe the lies because he uses flattery to gain people’s devotion. He plays the part of a Godly Man while his multiple email accounts are packed with pornography, dating sites he has memberships to, and things that are too disturbing to mention. I finally had to just stop looking because there seemed to be no end to it, and each thing I discovered was another wound on my soul… yet it is I who’s being scorned by certain people who profess to be Christians.

    I just recently discovered some of what he said and it makes me sick that anyone could believe such horrible things about me. … nobody wants to hear me complaining, nobody wants to even try to understand how hurt I am. For The Last several years people were willing to listen to him and didn’t care to see or hear the other side.

    I decided to get therapy over a year ago because of my depression, only to find that I was not depressed but suffer from complex PTSD because of the emotional abuse I’ve endured. My therapist made me realize that I was being emotionally abused…

    I Googled the ways I was being treated, and stumbled upon Narcissistic Abuse. While researching that, I discovered he wasn’t the only one abusing me in this way. He was having an emotional affair with another woman who also uses religion to abuse people, and they were texting back and forth behind my back, telling each other they needed to pray for me. He texted her speaking slanderous words about me whenever I would catch him in a lie, which was every day, and she would text him whenever I disagreed with her. It usually had something to do with things that were none of her business in the first place.

    My mind protected me for a while because I was conditioned to believe that everything was my fault. I believe God started opening my eyes after I prayed for Him to help me understand what was going on, no matter how much it hurt. Within minutes of praying that prayer I received a text from my husband that was meant to go to this other woman. Ouch, it cut deep.

    People tell me it’s not good to isolate myself but thanks to my ex-husband slandering me to my closest friends one by one, month after month, year after year, I began to become isolated long before I realized what he was doing. I knew someone was saying things behind my back that weren’t true, causing my friends to abandon me. Little did I know that it was my own husband.

    I keep being told it doesn’t matter what people think it only matters what God thinks, and I only need God, I don’t need anyone else. Then they go about their merry way planning dinners and vacations and celebrations with their loving family and friends.

    • DyingStar

      Psalm 55, my heart hurts so much for you. Please don’t give up. I KNOW these feelings ALL TOO WELL. ALL of this has happened to me too. I know how it feels to be isolated from your family and so called friends due to your abuser’s lies. I’ve been there, so many times. You have this community and I hope it helps to lift you up and realize you’re not alone. I know it’s definitely helped me. I also struggled with PTSD due to my three abusive relationships. Please remember that you are NOT alone.

      What helped me was physically moving away. I transferred my job and left the area. It helped me to escape the constant daily trauma of being around him and his friends and family. And believe me, I’m used to getting looks of pure disgust when I go out in public in that area. I’m the one viewed as trash, and he’s the one viewed as smelling like a rose. I’m seeing that this happens a lot more than I thought.

  6. I Cannot Unsee What I See Now

    I hear you. I believe you. So many, many losses from those who should have been trustworthy. If I hadn’t lived much of this myself, I would not be able to understand as much. Is porn and financial dishonesty a given with these “good Christian” men types?

    • Many, but not all abusers use porn and are financially dishonest, exploiting their spouses economically. Abusers use a range of tactics. They all use emotional and verbal abuse. They are all liars and manipulators. But they may or may not engage in the other modes of abuse — sexual, financial, physical violence, spiritual abuse, social abuse (isolating the victim). They often use some of those other modes of abuse, but they may not use them all. And an abuser often specialises in some tactics more than others.

      • DyingStar

        Barbara, one thing I have learned from being with three abusers is that they’re all unique in their tactics. They’re all abusers, but the tactics they use vary depending on their preference I suppose. Each time I would end up with a new abuser, I’d think, “Well, he isn’t acting like my ex!” but what I failed to realize is that each one had their own methods they used to abuse.

      • That’s what I thought about the second man I married, DyingStar: “He’s not like my ex!” For example, he supported my writing, which my ex had scoffed at. He didn’t use sarcasm whereas my ex has majored on sarcasm. He didn’t coerce me into unwanted sex once we were married, like my ex had. He didn’t overspend on his fancy car like my ex had. He wanted to go to church and mix with other Christians and he loved to read the Bible with me until very near the end of the marriage — things my ex had only showed interest in for a short while. But he turned out to be an abuser, none the less.

      • Hi DyingStar, do you know when you will be sending us Part 3 of your testimony? One of our readers is keen to know when we will be publishing it.
        Thanks 🙂

  7. DyingStar

    Hey Barbara! I will work on it for you now! I can email it to you if you like. 🙂

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