When you hear the word “abuse,” many ideas come to mind. People have their own feelings and ideas about that word. I have not shared my full story because it is scary to acknowledge you have been abused. People see you differently.
There are many emotions that run through people when we realize we are being abused and even more so when we choose to do something to end the abuse.
In my life, I have survived different kinds of abuse: sexual assault, mental, verbal, emotional, financial, and spiritual abuse to name a few. Most of the abuse came from my spouse, but not all of it. I first learned about how a grown man can attempt awful things with a young girl when I was an 8-year-old on a subway. When I tried to tell my mom what happened, I was ignored and told to, “Forget about it.” So, when similar things occurred when I was 15 and again at 16, I did what I was told.
I firmly believe in the Bible, every word of it. It is to Romans 8:28 that I cling, looking for good in everything that has happened to me and continues to happen to me: “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
I share my story to find the good. My goal in telling my story is to help just one person and to give God all the glory. God has used every event in my life to make me stronger and firmer in my relationship with Him. Healing does not happen overnight. It takes God first, then work and love and help and support. It has taken me years to get to the point of being able to talk about some of the events in my life.
I recently left my abuser. The wounds are still fresh for me, and now that I am no longer in this person’s presence, I can see with clarity just how deep those wounds are. But, with the help of many people, the raw wounds are becoming scars. I bear them proudly, as each one has a story that may help someone. I am not ashamed of my scars or my story. I am not ashamed that I need help or to ask for it (this is new for me). I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is my Lord and Savior. He was my Lord during the abuse and He remains my Lord after the abuse has ended and as my healing begins.
My body has scars and tattoos that are a daily reminder of my story. As survivors, we are not to be ashamed, but instead share with who we are led to share. I am led to write here – for the first time – my story.
While there are still many wounds that are being healed with the help of loved ones and an amazing Christian therapist, I choose to remain silent no longer. This is not a series of posts to say, “I figured it all out, and here it is!” But instead to share what I have learned so far along my journey.
As someone who is a survivor and not a victim, I offer the below thoughts to those who love a survivor and to those who will become survivors.
- Please get help. Please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline on their site or by phone at 1−800−799−7233. Do not be one of the ones who does not survive to leave.
- There is a huge difference between calling someone a “victim” versus a “survivor.” Survivors fight, and we literally have survived abuse. We have lived to tell our stories, and we do. Not to make spectacles of ourselves, but to help others become survivors, too.
- Unless you have been in an abusive situation, please stop saying, “I don’t know why you just don’t leave.” It is not that easy.
- Leaving is a massive undertaking. You must have a plan, and it sometimes takes months to execute that plan in a safe way.
- Please do just LEAVE if you or your kids are in danger.
I understand some statistics show it takes on average seven tries for someone to leave, and not all survive that long. I am grateful to God I survived to leave. I was scared, but God sent me a video featuring Joyce Meyer a few weeks ago, deeply impacting me. I will continue my story here next week, as I have much more to share. [Read Part 2.]
Heavenly Father, we lift up the survivors and the victims of abuse. May they always feel You with them. Please show them their paths. May there be no further victims, only survivors. In the blessed name of Jesus we pray. Amen.