October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
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I am a survivor of domestic violence and because God saved my life I survived. I know what it means to endure and persevere through unsurmountable fear, unimaginable pain, and near-death brutality. I know what it means to be strangled to point of losing my sight and to the point where my bodily functions began to fail. I was taken to the precipice of death.
In the 1980’s I was single, in college, working, and living on my own. During this time, I met a man at work, and we began to date. I got pregnant and although I did not have any plans to marry him, my parents persuaded me to get married. This decision changed my life and took me in a vastly different direction. Verbal abuse quickly escalated to physical abuse. My pregnancy did not shield me. As a matter of fact, the worst incidences occurred during my pregnancies. Violent rages ensued. He spat on me. The wind would blow to the north and this would be enough to send him over the edge. He punched walls and broke doors. I was asleep and he would pull me by my ankles off the bed, my back and my head met the floor first before my hands could. He pushed me hard enough for me to fall, face down, my belly and my unborn son took the brunt of it all.
I allowed and endured cycles of violence for three years.
I didn’t see a way out because fear paralyzed me. I took full responsibility for getting married and for staying for the duration of time that I did. Control, manipulation, and the ever-present fears and danger of being murdered were always there. He would regret his actions and make vacant promises that he would never be violent again, but none of this was true. I would forgive him and the cycle of violence continued.
I did not tell those close to me. I was too afraid. My parents did not know either. I specifically did not tell my dad because he was ill. Sundays were always my ex-husband’s worst days. After church I could count on his abuse, in one form or another. I mustered up enough courage to call his mentor, who was an elder at the church we attended. I told him about the abuse and that I was deathly afraid that my husband would kill me. He told me to stay in my marriage. He didn’t offer any support or guidance. I remember thinking, if someone in the church does not care about my life and safety who will. I was shocked and did not know where to turn. I found it impossible to fathom that God wanted me to endure verbal and physical abuse as though this was my lot in life. Shortly after this, my father became gravely ill and died. I took my children and stayed with my mom, despite his threats. My extended family members were coming to town, and I knew that this was my way out. I planned to tell my uncles and my mom, as well as my friends. And I did just that. This was the gateway to my freedom, but I wasn’t safe yet. The worst of his violence took place after I left him. I was raped when I returned to the home, we shared to collect the last of our belongings. And on another occasion my mom had left home to run an errand. He entered her home through an unlocked door. It was there at knifepoint that he held me and our children hostage, it was there where he tried to strangle me to death. It was there where God saved my life. God had saved my life all along. During my divorce I got the psychological help that I needed to heal. And although the healing journey was rough, I persevered.
My ex-husband never saw the reality that he had a problem and needed professional help. And because there was no acknowledgement on his part, he never got the help he needed and he never changed. During my divorce I sought professional help. I realized that I had a problem too. I was in therapy for five years. I worked on myself and God transformed my life.
I don’t regret the decision that I made long ago; without it I would not be the woman I am today. God took one of the worst experiences I lived through and transformed it into a winning victory and blessing for me and a continuum of blessings for the women I am called to reach, touch, and influence. My testimony resonates deeply for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, and for women in general. For many, many years I have represented the voiceless and those searching for freedom from violence.
Join us as we continue to support survivors and help the wounded.