What’s Your Story?
I’m going to tell you some graphic incidents that happened to a girl I knew who endured domestic violence and emotional abuse. Please hang with me, because these things that happened to her are not pretty, and some might say it’s airing someone’s dirty laundry, but it is a real and true story that needs to be told.
- She once had a gun pointed at her to leave
- He once tried to hit her with a vehicle
- She once was physically thrown out of her house, locked out, and that night she slept in her church parking lot
- One day, there was an argument, and her keys were taken, phone taken, and her wiper blade was grabbed and snapped in half as he walked away out of sheer rage
- She was screamed at and backed into a corner at a local general store
- She was wrestled and chased through the house; screaming help to anyone who could hear her, running from one end of the house to the other trying to get out, but he kept blocking the doors beating her to it
- She was whipped like a child over his knee because she was a “bad wife” just 3 days after they were married
- One afternoon, there was a disagreement that lead to wrapped Christmas presents thrown all over the house, damaged and destroyed, he grabbed her neck, pinned her on the couch; it happened to be the same night of their church Christmas party and she told her Pastor what had happened before they came, a cry for help, and he said, “but what psychotic thing did you do to trigger him to do that?”
- The first time she moved out she had Police escorts to gather her belongings so she could leave in peace
- Going back to get some items she left, he threw those things at her car leaving dents all over the hood
- One day before going in to preach at church she was a lay speaker at, he wanted her to take him home, she refused, so she was drug across the seat of her car, trying to keep a hold of her car keys he was trying to take, she got her finger getting caught in the key ring and it getting sliced open requiring 6 stitches; meanwhile she was supposed to be inside preaching to the Methodist congregation she were a lay speaker for; they were told she had cut her finger and they had to go to the ER, no church today
- He told the nurse what had happened at the ER and nothing being done; she sat there in fear as he told the story, because he had told her that if he ever went to jail, she would too
- She was cussed at and told how stupid she was the entire way to the ER
- After returning from the ER, he locked her out, took her keys and phone, so she walked the streets of Austin, hoping he would calm down and let her back in, unable to contact anyone and ashamed and not wanting to; all while on heavy pain medication from the stitches she needed from the cut on her finger
- There was a restraining order placed on him finally
- A restraining order attempted to be placed on her as well, but she went to court to tell her side and he already decided he was going to dismiss it that day; along with the divorce that he filed
- They went to marriage counseling and he kept getting texts from his girlfriend and told the minister doing the counseling it was his son
- She moved out 3X, but sadly moved back in 2X
- He finally admitting to cheating and they were still together – on her drive to work that day, she cried her eyes out, but distinctly remember the exact location of where she was at, when she believed she heard God say, You are released.
- She heard from one of his groomsmen after the divorce, he used to sneak her neighbor in their house when she was gone to grad school classes
- He told and will still tell anyone who would listen she cheated on him and that was why they divorced
- She was told to never talk to your stepson again, that he was glad she were gone, and he “thought you were stupid and crazy.”
- I have no idea how many times she was called a fat___, horrible names and words, and constantly accused of cheating
Would you believe it if I told you this girl was me?
From 2000 to 2009/2010; 10 years of my life, this was my norm and I survived it.
- Did I do anything wrong? Of course.
- Did I know how to control my reactions? No.
- Do I wish I would have seen and heeded a million red flags before it got to these incidents? You have no idea.
- Was I at my lowest of the lows I thought was possible? Yes definitely, so many times.
- Why wouldn’t I leave sooner?
- I did know that it could have been worse. People dealt with worse, I convinced myself it wasn’t that bad; and not every day or every moment was bad.
- I kept believing it would change, believing in the God factor; he would get it together, and we would get it together.
- The vows I took, but mostly I didn’t want to be a failure, and it was an embarrassment.
- Did I get help, yes, best thing I ever did for myself, six months of counseling
- I had to reteach myself boundaries, self respect, and understand my worth.
This graphic was presented to me in counseling, and I’ve never seen anything so simple that applied directly to the life I was living. Tension would build, there would be a huge blow up, then the reconciliation part (“The gun wasn’t loaded, I didn’t really try to hit you, I’m getting things together.”) Then, the calm, and repeat.
Completely torn down, I had to rebuild myself, and it wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t quick.
Do I still have scars? Yes, physical and emotional scars and triggers I have to recognize and still continue to work through.
I still have trouble being open and loving – I was in protection mode.
I have trouble trusting.
I have an extremely strong reaction to lying and manipulation.
I have trouble getting close to people.
WHY…. WON’T WE TELL OUR STORY?
It’s embarrassing, it’s uncomfortable, it’s negative, it’s a drag, it’s too real, it’s “airing dirty laundry,” and it’s honestly easier to pretend it didn’t happen.
WHY do we believe we have to put on this perfect representation?
How many people when you ask them to come to church say, “not yet, maybe when I get my life together?”
#MeToo movement – There are so many silent victims out there, fighting alone.
Why is it not ok to talk about the parts where we fall short, or need help and support?
This song by We Are Messengers, speaks so powerfully.
As a teacher, it is the worst feeling when you have a kid who has been so awful, so annoying, or just plain rude to you; but then you hear their story, or someone else tells you: mom and/or dad is in jail, they have a drug problem, they don’t have a stable home, there are terrible situations in the home; and then, you extend grace, because of their story.
Why don’t we share our story?
It’s been another ten years, and this is the first time I’ve shared my story like I have today. I told Ben on our third date (thankfully he still stuck around!) I’ve shared some of this with some close friends, but just bits and pieces here and there; but never more than a minute or two of sharing because these are extremely uncomfortable topics.
How many women could I help by sharing that story who are stuck in that cycle?
How many of us are stuck in the cycle with other things? It’s ok, it gets bad, it’s not that big of deal, and repeat… and repeat… and repeat.
I’ve always wanted to write a book, but honestly this involves real people; truthfully, would I be sued for slander and libel? This is a real person who did these real things. We live in small town USA, everyone is related, and it’s impossible not to offend people and hurt real people. I worry about that in this moment as I prepare to publish this post.
It feels like a segment of my life that wasn’t even me. Possibly, I’ve compartmentalized it to make it easier to deal with and heal. Or denial. It was a rough week in preparing this message because I’ve really buried these things. One of the best things I was able to do was I had already started teaching at Salem when I was released and the divorce process started and ended. Thankfully too, there were no children involved.
You choose. Be the victim or get up again!
No, I don’t hate him anymore. Hurting people hurt people. It’s taken a long time to get where I can say that.
I believe God is a just God and eventually we each got what we deserved. Actually, I got more than I deserved. I have a stable marriage, a fantastic husband with an amazing moral compass, and two beautiful children who are such a blessing. For him, from a distance, his cycle keeps repeating, but honestly, I don’t know everything, nor do I worry about it or devote any time thinking about it.
What a perspective changer it has been for me. Would I appreciate all I have as much as I do had I not been through what I’ve been through?
Again, what is your story? What can you share with someone when God places you in the path that they need to hear to be encouraged? Please, share your story, someone needs to hear it! Listen to someone’s story; and give them grace, give them patience, and let them heal.