Five years of blogging more or less, thus far I have resisted writing about my experience with domestic violence. Reading Jane Kirkpatrick’s book raised more memories than I care to entertain alone. This post, Have You Hit Your Wife Today? is about that part of my life which has remained, if not hidden, at least quiet.
Please, please do not offer me (or any other victim/survivor of domestic violence) sympathy. We do not want pity. I suppose the proper response is much like that toward a handicapped person or one who is grieving. We just want to know that you are there, that you care, and that you aren’t scared off by the circumstances of our life, as though it were a disease you could catch.
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Because it is difficult to write, I used the third person, and limited editing. If I spend too much time at this it will never be published. Transparency is a fearful thing, but God has convicted me about this. I often wonder why “all things become new” and “forgetting those things which are behind” is so difficult to attain. Perhaps because I hold onto the past. It is time to let go.
She trusted Christ as her Savior at an early age. She is an only child, whose parents divorced when she left for college. She grew up in the church, teaching Sunday School, playing piano, working in children’s Bible clubs, in the youth group, and attended summer Bible camp.
She met her ex at the church youth group. They went to different schools. They were not high school sweethearts. His family was always in church. She went away to Bible college to become a teacher. He joined the Coast Guard. She taught one year in a Christian school. They did not date, but he asked her to marry him.
She did. She thought she knew him well. There turned out to be ‘two’ of him.
Four months after they were married the Coast Guard moved them to Alaska. They had four babies in four and a half years. They were involved in wonderful churches. They lived in the Great Land, with more of God’s beautiful creation surrounding them than some of you have ever seen.
She loved being a mother. She loved serving God and fellowshipping with other believers. She loved Alaska. And she loved her husband and children the best she knew how. She didn’t tell anyone there were problems. She took submission seriously and was proud of not talking behind her husband’s back.
It started with the man shooting the dog, and having his guns locked up at the Coast Guard station. Then it was a child he ‘found himself’ shaking. Then it was staying out all night, not coming home. Pornography. Verbal abuse to her. Not completing his work. Getting kicked out of the Coast Guard.
The abuse grew then. They should have gone home to family, but they decided together to stay in Alaska. That was a mistake.
She was not respected. She was the object of his frustration. She was strong, I suppose, and could take it. She was afraid of him. She served the children meals in their bedroom and played with them there to avoid his wrath. She had no friends and fellowship and ministries to speak of. He tried to cut off all access to the outside.
He left. She begged him to come back. How could she support four babies in Alaska so far from family? He returned. He controlled what money there was. He lost as many jobs as he found. He became ill. They returned home with nothing.
They started over. He attended Bible School. He did well. The second year he quit, left home. He threatened her life. She went back with him because he said he had a job and a home. They lived with his parents. He became more violent than ever. She had him arrested in his parents’ home.
His parents made her leave with the children. She has not seen any of them in the intervening twenty-seven years.
He divorced her. He did not support his children. He continued to be abusive in phone conversations, even with a restraining order. He did not seek visitation rights.
She raised the children alone with her mother’s help. She did the best she knew how. She ignored the effects of abuse. The pain is deafening. It doesn’t go away. The pain is not physical. The pain is emotional. The pain is in not feeling loved. In feeling like a failure. In blaming oneself. In wondering why.
She trusted God to take care of her and her children. He did. He does. She never remarried. Her ex is still ‘out there’. Her children are older than she was when she was divorced. She is a sinner saved by God’s grace. She desires to serve God daily.
God does not do finger peels. He gives us each a will of our own and expects us to make our own choices. I choose to open my hands and let this fall from me. I have lived in fear of my past for thirty-one years. It is time to move on. By God’s grace I will.
This is a beginning. It is the first step. If you know anyone who is a victim of domestic violence, or if you are in an abusive relationship, I encourage you to get help. Don’t try to ‘fix’ it yourself. Talk to someone who cares about you or a professional. Get help.
Have You Hit Your Wife Today? If you can answer this with a yes, you need to get help. You need professional help. You need to remove yourself from the situation to protect those you love. If your loved ones are afraid of you, you need help. Physical human help.