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A Very Personal Story of Domestic Violence

Warning:

The following is explicit, forthright and heartfelt after living through this with someone close to us. The name was changed to protect her innocence.  It has taken me months to write this post because of the reality behind it.  Yet I share this in  hopes of encouraging someone else and also because this is National Domestic Violence Month.

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One holiday, almost seven years ago, we received a middle-of-the-night phone call from Bree (name changed to protect privacy).  Bree’s voice was frantic as she screamed in my ear, “Pray!” and told me that the police were on their way to their home.  It was at that moment that Dw and I knew something was dreadfully wrong.  We were stunned – we had had zero clue.  After all, Bree and her husband were still just newlyweds.

After the police arrived and took him away, Bree called me back and told me what had happened. Her husband had been angry at her because they didn’t have company over for New Years Eve (she had wanted to, he didn’t) so he got his loaded gun and began shooting it off.  She was scared that he was going to hurt her and so she had called the police.  He ended up spending the night in jail and when he went before the judge Bree changed her story and said that she did not feel threatened.   

This is very common for victims of Domestic Violence – they minimize the abuse and terror to protect their abusing spouse because they feel sorry for him or are scared of what he will do if she does tell the truth. 

Before that middle of the night phone call we had had zero clue any abuse was going on although Bree and I literally would text or talk basically every single day.

Having grown up in a home where Domestic Violence was lived out, I actually knew the routine well – the “covering up” to protect the abuser, the “pretending everything is okay”, daily tiptoeing on eggshells.  And today, in our social media driven society, there is an added component – the regular posting on social media declaring how much she loves her abusing husband to pretend to the world that everything is okay and often as an avenue to gain mercy from the abuser. As is the case with most abusers and their partners, there are occasional good days or even good weeks in the beginning but before long the victim walks on eggshells every single moment of every single day.

That first phone call from Bree was our personal nightmare and it was beyond horrible to now know that someone we so desperately loved was living as a victim of Domestic Violence.

Seven months later we were all gathered together for a very special event.  Throughout that special event we were in shock.  Everyone who knew Bree was in disbelief.  Where Bree had once been the life of the party, she now sat with hollow eyes not saying a word for days.  Several of us heard her husband snarling at her, demeaning her and being hateful with his tongue – it was unbearable. We all could only imagine – if this is what he was doing when we were present – what in the world was he doing when we weren’t?

As they were preparing to head back to their home in another state, Dw pulled him aside to talk to him.  While Dw was talking to him, I managed to get her alone (which was a miracle because he would not let her out of his grasp) and I pleaded through my own tears, “Please stay here. Please don’t go back. He will kill you. We will help you.”  As tears dripped steadily from her beautiful eyes she whispered, “I have to.”

They had not even pulled out of sight when I was already dialing the 800 Domestic Violence Hotline to talk to a counselor.  For those needing it: 1-800-799-7233.  If you are afraid your phone may be monitored, there is a national website:  DV HOTLINE

The counselor told me that as much as Dw and I wanted to go after Bree and bring her and their newborn back, we could not force Bree to come.  She was a victim and statistics show that people forced to leave by a loving friend or family member will usually return to the abuse.  She explained that Bree would likely leave several times before she really had the courage to permanently leave.

And so began years of prayer and so very many calls.  I kept dated records of the things she would tell me.  And of course, the pictures.  Horrible, nasty, stomach-turning pictures.  I felt like I was reliving the nightmare of growing up in a home with Domestic Violence but this time I was the adult watching Bree live it out. It was horrific.

We prayed every single day for Bree’s protection, every single day that he wouldn’t kill her and every single day that she would one day have the courage to run!

Anytime my phone rang and it was Bree on caller ID my heart would race as I answered frantically my first words were always, “Are you okay?”  The stress on our souls was so painful!

Of course he attempted to keep Bree from her family.  He sequestered her from friends and if she did have a girlfriend he did everything in his power to destroy that friendship.  He wanted her under his control at all times and would say despicable, disgusting, vulgar things to her.

Bree’s abusing husband abused her sexually as well.  And yes, there is proof as he made a poster for Bree that she had to “obey” which he hung prominently in their home.  The last line of the poster tells the story of the sexual abuse.  It literally makes all who love her want to vomit.

I boldly share this wee bit of Bree’s story because I am convinced that some of you reading this are currently living in a situation with Domestic Violence.  You are reading this and you are saying about your husband or boyfriend, “He’s not that bad.  I can do this.  I don’t want to be a single mom.  I am afraid of hurting him. I feel sorry for him.  I am praying he will change – he says he is going to!”

Yes I know you feel sorry for him.  Bree felt sorry for her husband.  Bree never wanted to be divorced. Bree wanted to “live happily ever after” but no matter how hard Bree tried, the violence continued to escalate.  And in your situation sometimes when he gets violent he tells you he is sorry and it will not happen again but then quickly he flips and reminds you that it is all your fault he is like he is – because Bree’s husband did that too.  It’s a nauseating pattern of atrocious abuse.

To compound Bree’s situation her abusing husband’s family all ignored his abuse. They knew about it, oh yes they did. They saw the dozen or so holes he had punched right through the drywall.  They saw the doors he has smashed in. The door frames he had thrown her against that literally broke off the wall.  They saw it all.  Hard to imagine but yes, yes they did.

His father’s response to his son’s abuse, “Give what he wants!”  His family’s response to the dozen holes punched right through the drywall in Bree and his home?  Silence.  His family’s response to the door frames broken where he threw Bree so hard the door frame actually broke off the wall? Silence.  His family’s response to his threats? “Oh, poor guy.  We feel so sorry for him.”  They actually have had an excuse for everything he does and never once stood up for Bree.  Being quite honest all we wonder is, “How do they sleep at night while protecting this violent, abusive thug?”

Sadly, in many cases, parents/relatives will only enable the abusive behavior.  Bree was told by his parents, “Just give him what he wants” along with so many excuses why he was abusive.  And as they made their excuses I would argue (if I had the chance) with Bree (not them) that he never punched anyone at his job, he never physically abused any of the friends he plays sports with or anyone he does side jobs for.  Do you know why?  Because he’s a charmer to others.  He has amazing self-control with anyone who doesn’t live with him.  Wanna’ know why? Because he knows he can’t get away with it with his sports buddies – they would punch his ever-livin’ lights out.  He gets money from the people he does side jobs for so he is a “happy, helpful fella”.  And his co-workers?  It’s his job and he likes to get paid. The reality is that if he punched his co-workers that would get him arrested and subsequently fired. So he charms those around him and goes home and abuses the crud out of his wife and children.  What a pathetic thug.

Just like the 800 Domestic Violence counselor had counseled me, Bree left once for 3 weeks but went back (it was horrible).  Then a couple of years later she left again for two months as she sought medical care for a situation that was medically confirmed to be caused solely from the stress of living with a man who perpetrates abuse against her and their children daily.  Yes, the stress was so bad that it was medically confirmed that her health was in dire straights from living with a violent, abusive husband.  That’s how violent he was – it was dramatically affecting her health.  All the while we pleaded with the Lord to give her the courage to not go back.  We fasted. We prayed every.single.day.  And yes, I pleaded with Bree – trying to help her understand that her health was being compromised in such a powerful way that it was threatening her entire well-being.

But she went back again.

Listen up precious friend –  if any of Bree’s story is familiar to you – trust me, IT WILL ONLY GET WORSE!   It is NOT okay.  You have not done anything that would give him permission to punch you, slap you, kick you, pull your hair, drag you around the house, scream profanities at you, throw you from a car or truck, destroy property,  punch holes in your walls, run over your foot, smash the handle off the pantry door, make a poster for you to obey, sexually abuse you or any variation of any of the things I just listed!

It does not matter how much you pretend you’ll be fine or what you want to call it or how much you try to minimize his behavior or what a charming guy he is to everyone else – you are a victim of Domestic Violence!!

YOU MUST GET OUT NOW!! NOW!!

Do not wait, do not hope tomorrow will be better or that he will be nice.  GET OUT NOW!

Grab your kids and GO!  Don’t wait for him to get home from work.  Don’t wait and talk with him about it.  GO NOW!

If you don’t have transportation, call a friend, a family member, your church, a small group leader and even if they don’t know what has been going on, tell them you need a ride.  After you have left tell them the truth.  Get help!   There are people right around you who want to help. I promise.

If you don’t know where to turn email me:  APlaceCalledSimplicity@yahoo.com   Subject: The Purple Ribbon 

For the record precious friend, there may be some who won’t believe you.  That’s okay, I, for one, believe you.  There may be some who are shocked because of your spouse/boyfriend’s occupation.  Truthfully, nothing surprises those of us who have lived this nightmare.  Domestic Violence crosses all lines of socioeconomic levels.  There may be those who you think would say you should stay. Likely they have never lived with Domestic Violence and have zero clue.  Listen friend,  you have infinite value because you were made by the God of the universe.  His plan is not for you to live in Domestic Violence, even if that means Divorce.  He will get you through this season and He will bring healing.  Your worth is not dependent on what others think, your worth is found in Christ alone.

In Bree’s case one weekend it escalated to the point that he was so violent that she felt that if she didn’t run he was going to kill her and the kids and so she asked God for strength and she fled in the night with nothing.  She called friends from a new church she had visited, and although she hardly knew them she told them she and her kids needed a safe place to sleep and they graciously opened their home (we can never thank them enough).  On her own she called 911 and told them she had fled because she was afraid he was going to kill her and the kids and that she was not kidnapping them but would go to get a Temporary Restraining Order in the morning.  We held our breath and prayed throughout the night! Would she really have the courage to follow through?

The next day she went to a Women’s Shelter in a neighboring city and they helped her obtain a Temporary Protective Order and gave her direction to all the other help she needed.  They were incredible and we are so grateful for them.  We were praising God for her courage and pleading with the Lord for her and her kids protection and strength to keep going strong!

So now, let me be a voice echoing what maybe your mom or your sister or your neighbor or your friend has told you – GET OUT NOW! DO NOT WAIT! 

And if you have told no one, now is the time.  The truth will set you free!  This is not about you.  It’s about men who get their thrill from controlling, abusing, punching, having power over and demeaning the very person they promised to love and protect.  They are bullying thugs.

I plead with you – it will not get better – but will continue to escalate – please, please, please do not be a statistic! If you need help getting out, please email me:  APlaceCalledSimplicity@yahoo.com   Subject:  The Purple Ribbon

Here is an abbreviated listing from WebMD:

Signs of Domestic Violence: 

Your partner bullies, threatens, or controls you:

  • Accuses you of having an affair
  • Blames you for abuse
  • Criticizes you
  • Tells you what to wear and how you should look
  • Threatens to kill you or someone close to you
  • Throws things or punches walls when angry
  • Yells at you and makes you feel small

Your partner cuts you off from family and friends:

  • Accuses you of having an affair
  • Blames you for abuse
  • Criticizes you
  • Tells you what to wear and how you should look
  • Threatens to kill you or someone close to you
  • Throws things or punches walls when angry
  • Yells at you and makes you feel small

Your partner controls your money: 

  • Keeps you from working whatever job you want
  • Keeps cash and credit cards from you
  • Puts yo on an allows and makes you explain every dollar you spend
  • Steals money from you or your friends
  • Won’t let you have money for basic needs like food and clothes

Your partner physically abuses you:

  • Abandons you in a place you don’t know
  • Attacks you with weapons
  • Keeps you from eating, sleeping, or getting medical care
  • Locks you in or out of your house
  • Punches, pushes, kicks, bites, pulls hair

Your partner sexually abuses you:

  • Forces you to have sex
  • Makes you dress in a sexual way
  • Makes you feel like you owe them sex
  • Tries to give you an STD

Signs Someone You Know Is Being Abused

Keep an eye out for things like:

  • Excuses for injuries
  • Personality changes, like low self-esteem in someone who was always confident
  • Constantly checking in with their partner
  • Never having money on hand
  • Overly worried about pleasing their partner
  • Skipping out on work, school, or social outings for no clear reason
  • Wearing clothes that don’t fit the season, like long sleeves in summer to cover bruises.

What to Do if You’re Being Abused

First, know that you deserve better and that this isn’t your fault. If you’re in an emergency, call 911.

It can be hard to decide whether to stay or leave. That’s why it may help to start with a call to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233). Call from a friend’s house or somewhere else where you feel safe.

You can also turn to friends, family, neighbors, your doctor, or your spiritual community.

Also make sure you have an emergency escape plan:

  • Hide a set of car keys.
  • Pack a bag with keys, extra clothes, important papers, money, and medicines. You might keep it at a friend’s house.
  • Have a plan for calling the police in an emergency. You might have a code word so your kids, family, friends, or co-workers know you’re in danger.
  • Know where you’ll go and how you’ll get there.

The National Hotline site and phone number:  1-800-799-SAFE

 

There is also the flip side of this.  There are women who abuse their husband or boyfriend.  And due to the nature of it, it is extremely difficult for a man to admit that he is being abused by his wife or girlfriend. But the same applies – get out! Get help NOW!

PS.  Bree is now divorced and working hard to raise her kids well.  Her Permanent Protective Order remains in place. We are so proud of her courage and thank God every single day that He gave her the strength to get out. Also, on her own Bree started taking her older child for counseling to help cope with watching the abuse day in and day out.

And truthfully it took all my strength to tell a small portion of Bree’s story. Living it with her has been one of our worst nightmares.  Of course I only shared a tiny portion of her horrific 7-year-long story and only did so with her permission.

I will be closely monitoring comments to continue to protect Bree and with this post, no questions regarding Bree will be answered.  Thank you for understanding.

14 thoughts on “A Very Personal Story of Domestic Violence

  1. Thank you.

    I plan to share this but I think you need to edit the bullet points for keeps you from friends and family. They’re a repeat of the idea above.

    Blessings

    Lydia Strickler
    (Naomi’s sister)

    1. Your partner cuts you off from family and friends:

      Keeps close tabs on where you go and whom you go with
      Makes you ask for an OK to see friends and family
      Embarrasses you in front of others, and it makes you want to avoid people

  2. You are right. That was very triggering. I have been free for ten years this month but just reading that brings it all back. I don’t know that I will ever truly be free from the damage.

  3. This is a topic that very few speak about but many live with. There is an app called “Aspire News”. It allows victims of abuse to contact friends if they are in need of immediate help. I helped a woman from our church set this up and was one of her contacts. It looks like a news app if accessed by the abuser, but allows the user to get help by pressing one button.

  4. Thank you for sharing! It’s so hard to leave. It’s so hard to be brave. While I was never physically abused, mental abuse was there. For years. I was so strong and independent in my career but quiet at home. Until one day. I decided I just couldn’t any longer. That was 15 years ago. I’m remarried. My kids are almost grown. I found myself again and my backbone to stand up to him because we still have 2 kids together and have to do that civilly and we do, now. That took about 10-11 years!!! Great friends who helped me and prayed with me and for me were essential in my getting healthy again!

  5. My brother just walked away from a 12 year abusive marriage. Yes women abuse men and very rarely gets reported. The things he is telling us are revolting and no human should have to endure but thankfully he has been in counseling and doing well. Now to get him strong enough to fight her for the children. You are a wonderful, strong friend to walk this journey with her. God Bless you.

  6. Thank you for sharing. It took our Ruby 3 times, each all of us getting restraining orders and now she’s been free for 2 yrs. Hardest thing I’ve seen her go through.
    So glad Bree is safe!
    xx, barefeet!

  7. So glad Bree got out and is building a new life for herself and the children. Some stay “for the sake of the children”, and these children consequently end up very damaged.
    Sadly, sometimes the church perpetuates this kind of abuse: “You can’t divorce him/her, God hates divorce.” “You need to be more loving/submissive/pray more, and he/she will change.” “You need more faith.” How many lives have been destroyed, because pastors told people it was God’s will to stay with these monsters? So glad you are getting the word out.

  8. Thank you for writing this. So much to say and so little words. God bless you all and Bree and the children. Praying always for your precious family. ♥️

  9. Thank you for sharing this… it’s so important and effects so many people. Our prayers are with Bree and her kids. So very thankful that she had the courage to flee to safety. Praise GOD!

  10. Sometimes you stay not for the sake of the children but to be there for protection. If you leave and they get visitation rights you have no way to protect them. If you stay you can put yourself between them. It may sound crazy but it is a real fear. One I am no longer in but there are so many reasons you stay.

  11. This is such an extraordinary and important post to see. And I just read your comment and wish I could hug you. I left an abusive husband almost 40 years ago and this even triggered me some, but we really are free and I’m not just saying this next: Neuroplasticity works in adult brains, as well. To reinforce healing and the love of God. And I don’t mean to mention Jesus second as if He’s less. It’s the other way around…
    I’ve been able to forgive him since this. I still feel ill knowing what happened next though: The woman my first husband married after me? She’s dead now. His children don’t see him anymore. And there is more that’s too awful to write here. The longer we’re away, the greater the mystery that we stayed.
    I know I’m a stranger but sending blessings and prayers now to any other women or men who are reading this that you get out, get help and begin to live like you and God know you deserve. Paz y luz. Brett

  12. I absolutely look back on the night I fled with my three kids with nothing but a backpack with a pair of pajamas for each, as the bravest and best decision I ever made in my life. We are safe and I never knew what it was like to raise kids in a safe environment until now. Feels amazing.

  13. I know this post would’ve been incredibly difficult to write, but thank you for sharing it. This is such an important issue and desperately needs to be spoken about.

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