It was back in 2011 and I had just finished reading The Purpose Driven Life. I knew the irony of me, a domestic violence victim, reading a book by someone who publically disagrees with divorce, yet I couldn’t put the book down. My book is underlined, tabbed, and highlighted. I was absorbing every word.
At the time, my take away from the book was this: everyone needs to be in a Bible study. Okay, seems reasonable, I thought. Off I went the next weekend to find myself a Bible study in the large Methodist church I attend in eastern North Carolina.
I feel stuck in a revolving door of tiring and consistently selfish thoughts in my mind lately. That’s how I ended my day yesterday; totally focused on two situations in my world and how the situations impacted me. Honestly, when I woke up this morning I found my mind drained of anything positive; just yuck rolling around and around waiting for me to jump on some negative thought and toss it around for a few hours.
As I sit in church Sunday after Sunday mornings, I often leave discouraged and jealous. Surrounded by a thousand perfectly dressed, smiling, loudly singing, and actively listening to the sermon people causes me to feel unworthy. Unloved. Not good enough for God.
Over and over I ponder the same confusing thought: If God truly loved me, He surely wouldn’t have let the abuse get so bad, right? If He really loved me, then the horrors of the night my abuser held me in a chokehold with my feet dangling inches off the ground wouldn’t have happened, right? If God truly loved me, I wouldn’t be feeling so alone and isolated.
My journey from domestic violence victim to survivor is in its twelfth year. I’ve made huge strides in my recovery over the past five years (aka nervous breakdown year), yet the anxiety within my head has never completely calmed down. But this past weekend, for one of the few times in my life, I felt totally connected to my world for a beautiful five minutes.
One of the goals in my recovery has always been to obtain the calmness and peace God offers to his children. Psalm 29:11: “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.”
So many non-victims that I share my abusive background with can’t believe the horrific things my abuser did to me. But what I don’t believe I do a good job at describing is that my life continued on as I was being victimized.
During the five years we were challenged with our daughter’s cancer, and subsequent bone marrow transplant, the abuse increased 100%. Literally, I remained bruised from her diagnosis at two years old until I separated from my abuser five years later. My abuser couldn’t handle the pain, suffering, and possible loss of our daughter so he took it all out on me. Deep down, not unlike the increased abuse I suffered with the birth of our first child, my abuser definitely didn’t like my being distracted and not completely focused on his wants and needs. I specifically remember one extremely painful beating I received due to my being more focused on our daughter and ignoring his needs. Those of us who suffer abuse know exactly what I am talking about.
I am the first to admit I have double standards on my anxiety level when I am late leaving the house. If being late is due to my kids (rarely my husband) not being on time, my internal anxiety meter goes from 1 – 10 within two minutes. After two minutes being late from my designated departure time, I am huffy and feeling disrespected. Rarely do I care about my children’s “excuses”.
To me, it didn't make sense.
My most asked question during my transformation from domestic violence victim to survivor over the past 11 years is this: If I give my life to God, believing and following Him to the best of my abilities, why do bad things still happen in my life? Why doesn’t God, the one who can calm the sea and perform miracles, remove all the negativity out of my world once I pronounce my belief in Him?
Am I the only person who felt worthless after begging God to keep me alive the night my abuser attempted to kill me, only to find out that the next few years of my life continued to be inundated with unbelievable stress, anxiety, and financial ruins? My ruined self-confidence convinced me that even God considered me a loser and didn’t want to me around me.
Please Save Me
When I turned to God the night my abusive husband attempted to kill me, I didn’t know what else to do. Clueless and desperate, I was frightened for my life. It seemed obvious that my 18-year marriage to Tom was going to end one way or another. Years of abuse taught me how hard it was finding faith while being abused but I had to believe this time God would listen. After years of handling the situations on my own, I gave up.
Three years prior to Tom attempting to kill me, I had a plan to reach out to someone and tell them my pain. Looking back, it was an extremely dangerous plan but at the time, I thought my plan was solid. The problem was that someone, I am guessing God, interrupted my plan to talk. Here I was, courageous enough to tell someone, and my plan shattered into small pieces. For the next three years, I carried around resentment and anger; God’s love and security are obviously for someone else. If He really cared for me, He would have let me talk. If He truly loved me, He would have assisted in me getting out of this situation a long time ago.
When I had the courage to separate from my abuser, I was a 100% atheist. I was a caregiver to my three-year-old daughter battling cancer, mother to two boys under the age of 12 while being abused daily. Surely a loving God wouldn’t have allowed such things to happen. Therefore I decided there must not be a God. Or even if there was a God, He obviously wasn’t concerned about a dysfunctional person like me.
Something happened the night my abuser attempted to kill me; I dropped on the floor, on my knees, crying inconsolably for the first time in years, and begged God to allow me to stay alive. I promised that if He kept me alive today, I would do everything possible to remove my abuser from my world.
God: Where are you?
During the midst of my abuse, I thought for sure God had abandoned me. Or, I was being punished for a sin I committed 20 years ago. I was totally convinced that God had no interest in my situation and had left me out to handle it all without Him. Any thoughts that I had of returning to faith after domestic violence abuse was quickly discarded due to my strong, yet false, belief that if God had truly cared, He would have saved me from the abuse earlier.
Hi, I'm Sue
Welcome to my blog! I served twenty-one honorable years on active duty, living a double life of capability and accomplishment in the service while enduring brutality and abusiveness in my twenty-one year oppressive marriage. Today I'm happily married and have three children who are my inspiration and motivation.
My goal is to help combat the lies of abusers with the truth of God. I hope you find my words to be healing and helpful through your own life experiences.
Being separated from my abusive husband didn't make me a domestic violence survivor. It surely didn't release me from the grip of his brainwashing control and the innate power he had on me.
Read the full raw story in my new book, Rock Bottom and Faithless.