Women Nearly Killed by Abusive Husband Tells Us Her Story

(Update:  Seven Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships, and How to Defeat Each One of Them is now available.)

Here’s an email I got that’ll just about tear your heart out. The author hopes it helps any woman now living in the sort of abusive relationship she managed to escape.

Hi, John.

I am still nervous about writing this as I very rarely talk about the time with my husband. However, you seem to have women reading your posts who are still in troubled abusive relationships and I would like to help, to tell my story.

I was 19 when I got married. I met him at a seminary where we were both studying. He appeared to be a gentle, kind, God-fearing man. Our dating was very short and we were married in a little under two years of meeting each other. He first hit me on our wedding night. He apologized profusely and cried and made promises about how he would never do it again. I believed him. A few weeks later it came again—more violent, more angry, terrifying. I didn’t leave. I was scared of what others would think, how my family would react, when they were against the marriage in the first place.

In the next two-and-a-half years I was in the hospital twice with violence related injuries; was in the psych wards twice for attempting suicide; miscarried in the middle of a beating; gained 165 pounds through misery eating; and I developed a drinking problem. I was cut off from my family and friends; I wasn’t allowed to leave the house or socialize. At church I was there to make an appearance, and then packed up and taken home as soon as service was finished. My life wasn’t a life. There is much more I could say but it is still too soon, too hard.

There was one person in my life who brought a ray of sunshine. She was a non-Christian friend, someone whom I thought the least likely to help. My husband hated her because she made me think, challenged my beliefs. She would come round every day and sit and talk and smoke and just be there. I thought she never noticed anything, but have found out since that she knew what was happening, but also knew that if she went to the police I would’ve have bailed him out, stopped talking to her, and lost the only person who could help me in the process. It was unbelievably hard for her to watch me suffer, yet she knew that she was helping.

The night before I left him, my husband put a pillow over my face while I was asleep. For the first time I felt the need to fight back, damn it, I was going to live, I was not going to die like an animal. So I fought him off and I left. And I went to my friend’s house. She took care of me for two weeks while things were arranged back in my home town for my return. She was my angel.

The last two years have been hard but so worth it. I have battled with the idea that God does not condone divorce in physical violence situations. People in the church (and never my non-Christian friends) have told me that I should forgive and forget. I have argued to the point of exhaustion that I am doing the right thing. I have now got a full time job, I have lost 132 pounds, am in AA for my drinking problems, and I am going back to finish my degree in theology. God has been my lifeline, and I now see the hope at the end of it all.

I write this because I want all the women out there who believe that they are in the wrong, or that they can’t leave their abusive relationship, that there is hope, sometimes from the least looked-for sources. For all those who think he will change—that he loves you, and is sorry: He won’t, he doesn’t, and he isn’t. If you are in a relationship for him to change then you are in it for the wrong reasons. If he was sorry, then he wouldn’t do it over and over again, much less with increasing intensity. And anyone who says they love you and hits you DOESN’T love you. When he comes crawling to you with shame saying how sorry he is, think of all those parenting courses on toddlers. If a toddler wants something and throws a tantrum, and you give in because you feel bad, next time they will just throw a longer and harder tantrum, because they know you will cave. Don’t cave. For yourself, your children and all those who love you, please don’t cave. This is not the life God wanted you to have, not the one you deserve. And though you may not feel that at the moment, trust that once you are out of there, life will open up for you.

I lost my child to violence, to its own father. If you have children, leave him for them if you aren’t strong enough to do it for yourself.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Thanks for your story. You have been so brave. Sounds like God has used your friend in your life in a big way.

  • Suzanne Frey

    I also know that hitting is not part of love. I have just returned to my hometown after being divorced since 1996, but had joint custody of my daughter and could not leave that state with my daughter for any extended period of time. My daughter is now 20 and in college and for the first time I can see my mom and sister and nieces and nephews and borther in law and make a new life for myself. I too kept telling myself it would get better. At one horrible point I did go to my pastor and told him my three year old daughter and I needed a safe place to live. His exact words were,"Well I just can't believe that". It was a long time before I tried to confide in anyone else.

    To anyone in a relationship, married or unmarried, where there is emotional,physical,verbal abuse or maipulation, GET OUT!!!. It will only get worse without counseling and intervention. If you say you love him then get him help. Help him by leaving, it's the only way for his eyes to be open and the truth to get out. If you say you love him and let the abuse continue by staying then you are letting him sin and providing an avenue for the sin to continue. GET COUNSELING, TELL SOMEONE, don't sit there and watch as it escalates into something more ugly. GOD will provide and honor all you do when you do it with the right motives. Please don't let your children think this is okay and the way to have a relationship. Get a prayer partner, Be Honest, There is nothing you should be ashamed of. PLEASE PLEASE TELL SOMEONE.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Suzanne: Your pastor's response shames all Christians. Awful! I'm so sorry to hear all you went through. How great for you, to be back with your family. I hope anyone following this thread reads your comment here, which is so rich.

      • Melissa

        I agree. I am so sorry to hear that your pastor did not help you when you needed help the most. I pray that you switched churches because he no longer deserves to have you in his congregation. I am glad to hear that you were able to get out eventually though.

        I agree about leaving. By staying you are providing a channel for him to abuse you, a sort of medium. If he is not abusing you, he will be abusing the next person.

        My ex said to me in the end “I was afraid of my ex, I’m not afraid of you.” He was baiting me and letting me know that he felt that he had permission to abuse me because I posed no physical threat to him. I am angry to say the least, still three years out. When I tried to get away, he came down and took my car and my wallet. Another time he made me think that he tinkered with my car, therefore making it unsafe for me to drive it. He played on my fear constantly.

        These types of men are monsters. They seek power and control and that is their only motive. They feel so incredibly like failures in other aspects of their lives that their motive is to degrade and humuliate as well as control the women that try to love them. I really truly feel very sorry for any female that gives my ex the time of day. I pray for her protection. I also pray for my ex as well but that is for my own healing.

  • Ethel

    IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!

    I would like to say this to Marion, and to all women who have been in abusive emotionally and physically relationships, including myself….

    ..It is not your fault that you gave love and received hurt in return

    …It is not your fault that he does not know how to express his hurt, frustration or anger in a better way than to beat up or verbally abuse you

    …It is not your fault that it took you some time to figure out that there was something seriousl wrong in your relationship.

    …It is not your fault that there will always be narrow minded people who will not embrace you when you decide to show love to yourself and escape from an abusive relationship.

    It is not your fault, but it is your responsibility to love yourself and to protect yourself and to expect those who say that they love you to treat you with respect and to protect you always.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Ethal: Perfectly said. Thank you.

      • Melissa

        I agree. The victim bears no fault in the abusive relationship. The only fault that lies with the victim is the fact that they stayed in it for too long. When God speaks of the wicked in the Bible, he is not referring to abused women. Jesus was persecuted but yet he was not wicked. He loved. There were a multitude of signs that my ex was an abuser when I met him, and I even almost left him during the first year. He promised me that he would change. He did not. The bad behavior continued, and the only fault I bear is for not leaving him and turning to God for help with that matter. I unwisely put my life in jeopardy by staying with him, and so I must live with those regrets and somehow come to terms with all of that. I pray that God will provide a way for me to reconcile all of it. My ex even pushed down a female acquantance of mine one night. He pushed her down to the ground, and then pulled me down the stairs by my neck. I’m very fortunate that he did not break my neck. There is not a thing that I miss about him. I also pray for any woman that crosses paths with him. I believe my ex is capable of rape and murder as well. As a matter of fact I know he is and I just don’t think that. I’m certain of it. I wanted to believe the best but the best was just never there.

  • Christine

    I think there are two important points in this story.

    a) THIS HAPPENS IN CHRISTIAN HOUSEHOLDS, not just where the abuser is not a christian. Churches need to wake up and realise this is happening more often than they think.

    b) there is a clear case of escalation. If a man thinks he can hit you once and get away with it, what is to stop him doing it worse the next time?? Once hit is once too many.

  • Melissa

    It's been a long and hard struggle. I've left my ex and now planning on attending college in Aug w/ the GI Bill. My son is not mine anymore legally. He drugged me and stole my son, and now has custody. Judge Henroid here in Tooele, UT and Eric Johnson his attorney have gone up against me and have denied me rights to change the divorce decree. The pain continues knowing my son is being raised by a passive aggresive father. I've seen his aggressive way w/ his son, thats why I left, though he always have kept my son from me. Now he's taking equity out of my car to pay for his attorney fees. I feel like there's nothing left for me to do. I feel that him taking the $2000/$3000 to give to his attorney is his way of taking everything I have. Why can't I find an attorney to fight for me, or have a judge here in UTah looking twice at my situation. I'm losing every battle for my son. Aren't I his mother……crying!

  • Casie

    i was also suffocated by my boyfriend. i am only 19. & i fought back. I thought i was going to die and it was the SCARIEST thing of my life :( you are so courageous girl & i know how you feel. God bless you.

  • Rainier Wolfcastle

    I think you have to ask yourselves whether any of this would have happened if you hadn't been brought up in a society and especially in a religion that devalues and subjugates women, requiring them to "submit" to their husbands.

    Maybe the real underlying abusive relationship is the one you are in with your misogynistic religion, and the abusive relationships with men are secondary effects. If you won't stay with a man who doesn't respect you and care about your well-being, why do you stay with a religion that acts the same way?

    • Christine

      it depends on how you understand "submit". Granted for years it has been taught badly but the whole passage that that comes out of talks of Men loving their husbands as Christ loved the church = being willing to die an excruciating death for them, to sacrifice themselves wholeheartedly for the sake of their wife. Now that is a huge order and any man who takes that seriously would not in any way hurt or make his wife somehow subordinate. Submission is not about being less equal in rights, it is about showing respect and love towards someone who shows you the same. The word is unhelpful and has been misconstrued but we have to start teaching it properly not throw it out all together.

      In terms of why do I follow this religion? Because it is a religion that teaches love and respect for one another, it is just its followers who have misunderstood this. People screwing up makes me angry at people, not at God.

      • Heather

        I completely disagree with this interpretation. I would like to see a biblical scholar’s take on this. Generally, when translations do occur they try best to keep with the intention of the text and submit & love do not mean the same thing. They don’t even suggest the same thing. The submission a woman is to perform is to submit to being a servant of her husband “as unto the Lord”. This means she is supposed to take the leadership of her husband as God commands. If she were supposed to love her husband as god commans, it would have said just that. The intention is to establish a hierarchy of authority in the universe: God then Men then Women then Nature. It is all smoke and mirrors that teaches the bible says something other than what it does. And for this “godly submission”, man is in turn to love his wife and die for her safety. It does not say he is to submit to her…. ever.

        This same hierarchy shows up again elsewhere: “For a man is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.” 1 Corinthians 11:7 If they were meant to be equal then why didn’t it say “Man and woman are the image and glory of God”? Because women are seen as made from inferior materials.

        Paul wrote to the Ephesians in Greek. So the translation would be Greek to English…. so what are the Greek words for love and submit… I’ll show you:

        Submit

        ypováloun

        synonyms: kowtow, surrender

        Love

        agápi̱

        synonyms: affection, fondness, affinity, liking, dearness

        If Paul did not use the word Agape to say what he meant then that isn’t what he meant.

        Here is a link that shows the English & Greek versions of the text:

        http://scripturetext.com/ephesians/5-22.htm

        The word is submit, not love. All this crap people say about the Bible preaching equality is horse manure. If you want equality, and I hope you do, you will need to stop looking to that book to find it.

    • solaGod

      The Bible doesn’t promote subjugation of women. Many Christians do so because some of us believe everything we are told without study things for ourselves.

      The creation accounts of Genesis in no way supports or demonstrates that Adam had authority over Eve. Such things are traditional belief and not scriptural fact. It’s nowhere to be found in the creation accounts. It is religious belief without basis in the original scripture.

      Paul’s “interpretation” of the supposed creation order of mankind is a reflection of his Pharisitical, patriarchal background. Wholesale acceptance of his misunderstanding of Scripture has led to repression and oppression of half of humanity. I’m sure he meant no harm but countless billions have suffered.

      All the more reason to be steadfast to study scripture in entirety and for one’s self. We all have filters that color our view of things- including the apostles (i.e. Paul confronting Peter on his duplicity with non-Jewish believers).

      Read for yourself. Read for the truth.

  • Kristin

    God helps those who help themselves.

    Abused women, children & men – help yourself by getting out of the situation

    and God will help from there. Be strong!

    • Melissa

      It is difficult to be strong when you have endured a lengthy period of abuse. Strength I believe will come with time, but it does not just happen over night. Would you tell a rape victim to be strong and to move on with her life? It just takes time to heal from such things, and God does say in the Bible that He will provide a place and time for healing, that he will grant a place of rest to those that are wounded.

  • Kristin

    PS

    The interesting thing about the idea of religious submission is that this is the EXACT

    idea perpetrated upon women in the Muslim/Islamic religion and in fact, this is what the

    religions name means.

    I suggest women read the book Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and watch her short film called

    "Submission." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGtQvGGY4S4

  • Kelly

    I want people to know that not all Christians would urge someone in this situation to stay. I am a Christian (more "spiritual" than "religious", as I do not attend a church regularly), but I would hope that people would agree that the "sanctity of life" is more important than than "sanctity of marriage", if that marriage threatened someone's life. God also helps those who help themselves, as the saying goes, including those who leave an abusive relationship. The most important thing that anyone can do is listen to themselves, what they feel they need to do, not what everyone else is telling them is right. No one has the right to dictate what is right for another person to do, not even the Pope. Churches seem to have become more a place where people are told what to do & less a place where people actually spend their time worshipping God, which is what the church was supposed to be for in the first place. It's time to change that.

  • http://gloriapoole.com Gloria Poole

    It took fractures and a concussion to make me realize that the man i had married the second time really was as dangerous and as abusive as others had told me from events that had preceded the fractures. The hardest part for a woman in a dangerous situation of being married to a violent man is finally admitting how stupid I was to begin with in not recognizing the controlling, dominating, threatening,coercing, terrifying relationship before I married him the second time. I am now divorced from that man and I thank GOD and also the church I was in at the time that they understood better than I did that he did not love me at any point in time, and that he was dangerous. The district attorney who was prosecuting him after he was arrested the second time for trying to kidnap me and making threats to kill me told me that the county justice considered him 'very very dangerous' and thought of tracking his every movement. If they had done that, I might have been spared the fractures and concussion that happened when he violated the restraining order against him; in order to harass and threaten and try to control me by trying to prevent me from leaving the state in 2006.

    It took me a while to admit to myself how stupid I was to have gotten involved with him in the first place, but in my defense, I did not know much of his legal history of law-breaking behaviours until after I had married him then his lawyer told me The felony he had was sealed by the court and not public knowledge after he paid a big fee into the system to accomplish that.

    If I had advice to women dating, I would say get a background check on any guy that you have not known for years and or have had long on-going relationship to test the limits of it. That sounds harsh but read the news of how many women have been murdered by the man they had slept with! It is shocking the numbers.

    My then-husband [exhusband #2 now] pretended to love me, and always acted sorry afterwards. He tried to choke me, poison me, threw his coat on the stairs as I was coming down the stairs behind him with an armload of books and I did not see the jacket but my foot caught in it and I went wham to the bottom like a rocket on that coat and was hurt.That was one event of about 7 -8 events intended to kill me. I survived but did my soul? It has affected me. I do not want to be bitter toward all men or suspicious of all men. I love men in general and loved my daddy who is now dead, also, but I am very much more cautious and tend to be a recluse. My attempts to overcome involved writing a poem entitled "I' m Telling Someone' and I think it is still on this site of mine if you are curious:
    http://gloriapoole.com/my-poetry or google may have archived copy of it .

    Gloria Poole; Missouri; 10-April-2010

    • Melissa

      Be thankful that he acted sorry afterwards. Mine did not. Your ex sounds very evil and it is good that you got away. It sounds like he could have planned your death if you had stayed with him for any longer. I am sorry that you had to go through all of that, and I know it is hard.

      A bad juvenile record should be considered as well. My ex did not have any kind of criminal record during his adulthood, despite that he was a criminal . He just does not seem to ever get caught as he is very good at creating confusion and directing the attention onto other people that are not guilty. I think that someday he will get caught, as I believe they all do eventually. He used to watch people in their homes with binoculars even. I was sick one time in bed and he did this. I was too sick to object to what he was doing. I often wonder when God will put a stop to his violating tactics.

  • Diane

    read where the bible says that God made both man & woman in his image! Both of them were made in his image so God is not placing males above females but I do believe that sexist males did tamper with the original words of God & changed them because males would have rather died horrible deaths than to see women have equal rights & Power! If evil men were not allowed to tamper with scriptures then why does the bible give clear warning against those that do it? It was tampered with & also translations are somewhat corrupted in most bibles anyway.God is not a Sexist but many many males are! They fear women having power because when they do,they cannot use women & control them for their selfish gain any longer

    • solaGod

      The creation accounts of Genesis in no way supports or demonstrates that Adam had authority over Eve. Such things are traditional belief and not scriptural fact. It’s nowhere to be found in the creation accounts. It is religious belief without basis in the original scripture.

      The same creation account used in I Corinthians 11 is there for us to examine. If it’s there, any of us should be able to go to that passage and point out the verses that bear to that point. I guarantee that if you try it you will find that you can’t either.

      Christians would do well to go back to the creation account in Genesis to verify anything related to the creation order.

  • Diane

    the abuser I was with tried to control me & isolate me.He had pushed me,choked me,held me down & wouldn’t let me up because he said I was talking to another male outside when he was in the shower just because I went outside to have a ciggerette.He did all he could to break me down & destroy my self worth because his fear of love was much greater than my happiness,he had to be first in all things and demanded all of my time & attention.He would try to turn everyone against me & he was just a hateful lil troll & I left him.He’s in prison for the 3rd time now & he’s also there for his drug addiction to coke & meth.He has two issues,abusive personality is one & the other is drug abuse.drugs don’t make he think the way he does about women,he chooses to think the way he does and he does know how wrong & twisted it is.They are aware,don’t let them ever make you think that they aren’t,they definately are!!!

    • Melissa

      I’m glad to hear that your abuser is in prison. Mine is not, although I suspect that he will eventually end up there. I believe that my healing would be faster if he had ended up in jail for what he did, but that was not in the cards for me. My ex would harm me physically, and then he would go out and buy me a wrist brace or something along those lines to help heal the physical damage that he did to me. His intent was not to help me but rather to manipulate me into being quiet about it all. He was a nightmare. Drug user as well. Thief and master criminal as well. The guy would break into places that had deadbolts on the doors. He truly violated everyone that he came into contact with. That is a big sign of an abuser – someone that consistently violates others in ways that are secretive. They have no respect for themselves and therefore have no respect for others. Somehow the difference between wrong and right just does not hold any bearing in their though process. I pray that you are able to heal from it all yourself. Peace.

  • Natalie

    I have been married for 5 years now and my husband has hit me more times than I can count. This last incident he decided to strangle me and put a pillow over my face. Fighting for my life infront of my 3 year old, I was able to get help and get away from him. We are still married and I’m in the process of divorcing him and having a new life without the abuse. I am def turning my life around and never letting any man abuse me again!!!

    • Melody

      Wow, Natalie, that is scary. I can’t even imagine what that’s like. I’m so glad you’re in the process of getting out of that situation, and I wish nothing but peace, joy, and true friendship for you. God bless you.

      • Melissa

        I’m glad you have gotten out too. Be careful though. I was in an abusive relationship for a little over a year when I was about 20 or so, and then I fell victim to my ex of nine years that severely abused me. I thought that it couldn’t happen again, but it did. I allowed it to and apparently I had not learned the lessons that I needed to learn yet. Take your time when you decide to date again and do not jump into anything too quickly. There are a lot of them out there. Unfortunately that man I was with for nine years was much worse than the abuser of my younger years. He went to work every day and so I figured that he was more stable. Truth of the matter is that he was just more sophisticated in the way that he abused, and much much worse in the long-run. Sometimes we are better off by ourselves.

  • breese

    i am scared to say the things my ex husband has done to me for the fear of embarrassment! he is still around and will not let me move on! I have been going through this since 2004. nearly killed twice. I have had him arrested 3 times had two restraining and four COR’S. HE WILL NEVER STOP! HE HAS DONE THE ABSOLUTE UNTHINKABLE TO ME! I CANNOT EVEN WRITE IT DOWN BECAUSE I DONT WANT TO START SHAKNG. HE HASS BEEN ARRRESTED FOR STALKING ME 3 TIMES FOR DOMESTIC ASSAULT ECT. I don’t know why I still feel anything for him. I think I am sick in the head literally! no one should have to live there like in this constant fear and misery! I have tried twice to move on and he threatened the two men I had actually acquired feelings for until they had had enough. he was in jail for awhile for this treatment but returned back with the vengeance when he got out! why after so many years do I feel sorry for him? Why have I become such an angry person and scared of my own damn shadow??? I feel like attacked anyone that to close to me, for example, one of my friends came to the restroom with me when we were all out for dinner(it was a one person bathroom) and she shut the door, shutting both of us in there and I absolutely freaked out and couldn’t quit crying and screaming. it was intense! I couldn’t breath. I was so embarrassed! I would love some advice on my situation. sincerely, Bri

    • breese

      Sorry for the grammatical errors. It is hard for me to talk about.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Ok, first question. In all those times he has been arrested, has he ever gone to trial for his crime?
      Second question, Have you sought counciling? You have suffered a horrific, ongoing trauma, and it is not unusual for people to suffer emotional consequences. Its normal, for your body and your brain to be in a continual state of panic because of such a trauma.
      Third..not a question but a statement, from one who’s been there, not as scary as your situation, but who has lived in fear of an ex. You don’t deserve this, you don’t deserve to live in fear, to live in a reactionary mode, to keep this person in your life, on any level. And he doesn’t deserve a damned thing from you, but your scorn, and you turning your back firmly away from him.
      I’d cut off all contact, phone numbers, emails, etc. If you can move, then do so, any mail you do get from him, return it to sender unopened. Enlist the aid of co-workers and your place of employment. Let your friends and family know what is happening, you you emotionally, and what your ex is doing, because your best defense, and offense is a bunch of pissed off people who love you.
      If he has a restraining order (I hope you have one), then legally he cannot set foot upon your work place. If he does contact you, or you see him on your property, immediately call the cops, and have him arrested for 1. breaking the restraining order, 2. tresspassing, 3. assault. Use your anger to fight, not to flee.
      Of course its hard to talk about it, but I’m glad you did. Please let us know how you are doing. If you want, you can email me through my blog.


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