My heart was breaking as the tears flowed freely. I found it hard to believe that I was in this place, the place I never wanted to be in. I cried out to God with a single question, “God, do you still love me?” I expected that He would hate me for what I had done, but instead, He showed me love, genuine, agape love.

As the tears continued to flow, the sobs began to subside as I sensed an overwhelming Presence, so warm that I thought of “love.” He loves me! But, how could He when I did the very thing that He said He hated?

 

Abuse in Marriage | God Loves You No Matter What | What to do to Leave an Abusive Marriage

 

That day, I spent hours on my knees crying before the LORD. I was sure He hated me. Why shouldn’t He? You see, after 29.5 years of marriage to an abusive husband, I finally had the courage to leave. That was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. It was harder than staying in the marriage.

It was ingrained in me that God hates divorce. So how could God love me? I had left my marriage with the intention of not returning. That was wrong thinking too as I knew what the Bible said about divorce.

I can still see myself, that July day in 2010, as I cried before the LORD. Because He hates divorce, I expected Him to hate me. I had never been in a situation like this before and so I truly didn’t know how He would respond to me.

So, how did I know that He loves me? He showed me in tangible ways, through my coworkers and Christian friends. I had nothing when I left the marriage, only a few kitchen items but no furniture. But He blessed me abundantly, to overflowing, in fact. He answered prayer after prayer. For example, one day, I had been crying and wanted someone with skin on to talk with and as soon as I asked Him for that person, the phone rang and it was a counsellor who was checking in on me! How awesome is that?! Is that not God showing me that He cares for me?

 

The Beginning of Marital Discord

{Disclaimer: This post is not to be taken as legal advice or spiritual advice regarding divorce or separation. This is a personal testimony of God’s love and forgiveness and meant to be used as encouragement for similar situations.}

I married my husband fully expecting to grow old with him “til death do us part.” Little did I know of the changes that would come within two months of committing to our vows. Subtle changes, hardly recognizable but there just the same.

We were married in October and by Christmas, the abuse had already started. He hit me once and I told him if he ever hit me again, that that would be it. He never hit me after that.

But, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t abusive. He found other ways to mistreat me. He broke furniture, threw things, yelled, screamed, called me names, belittled me, and basically broke my self-esteem. I felt worthless. I even felt ugly. There were hardly ever any words of affirmation only words that made me feel like I wasn’t worth much. The emotional and verbal abuse continued throughout the years though I did notice that it got worse after 1993. 

You’re familiar with cycles, right? Our marriage worked that way too. We’d have good days, good weeks and even good months and then something would happen and it would change from good to bad real fast. 

At first, there were more good days than bad days but five years into the marriage, the bad days took a toll on my body, physically, and I was in pain. The doctor asked me about my marriage and there it was, the reason for the abdominal pain. My husband denied that there was anything wrong, that nothing needed to change. My pain continued for many years. 

Fast forward to 2007. I had already tried to leave the marriage a few times but was either threatened, or he would try to change. I must admit that he did try but it wasn’t sincere. It was a show as he continued a new tactic of being rude about my church friends. Anyway, that didn’t last long and things returned to normal. 

Let me talk to you about “normal” for a minute. 

 

An Abused Wife’s “Normal”

My parents were divorced when I was a teen and lived across the country from each other. As a young wife, I didn’t have my parent’s marriage as a role model, however, I did have my in-laws’ marriage to watch. 

That was not a good thing but I didn’t know it. Over the years I saw why my mother-in-law wasn’t happy, why she didn’t want to live that way anymore. I frequently would talk her out of doing the things she said she would do. Those were the days that I didn’t know the extent of the abuse that she received. 

My husband and I would often talk about their marriage and we decided that we didn’t want a marriage like that. We wanted to be loving and kind, respectful and considerate. But he didn’t realize that even as he said that, he was already walking in his father’s footsteps. He was already mistreating me in many ways and had been for years.

To me, my marriage was normal. My in-law’s marriage was the same so this must be normal, right? 

I was in an unequally yoked marriage as I was saved five months after we got married so I figured that the wonderful Biblical marriages I was seeing in my friends’ lives was not meant for me because I was unequally yoked. 

I was so wrong. 

Abuse of any kind is never normal, whether you are in an unequally yoked marriage or not. Abuse is oppression and it is wrong.  

 

Abuse of any kind is never normal

 

To the Married Woman in an Abusive Relationship

I am not advocating divorce for ‘just because’ reasons. The Bible is clear on the grounds for divorce and just because a couple has a bad day, week or even month doesn’t mean the marriage is destined for divorce. 

Marriage is hard work and takes commitment on both sides to make it work. God has expectations for a godly marriage. He expects that the husband would love his wife as Christ loves the church. He expects that the wife would respect her husband. He expects that they would be true to the marriage bed, keeping their love for each other. He expects that the husband would be kind and tender towards the woman he chose to marry and not oppress her.

But to the wife who is being abused, it’s a different story. Those expectations aren’t met. Marriage is altogether different. 

Can we talk about what you’ve been taught in Bible Studies, Sunday school, Sunday sermons, etc? You’ve been told either directly or indirectly that you should not leave your husband much less divorce him. When you read the Scripture passages that talk about divorce, you look for your situation in the text but you don’t see it. Then you resign yourself to a life of continued abuse. 

You need to keep looking at the Bible. 

There are verses that speak to your situation but those in spiritual leadership are not showing them to you. 

Let me do that for you. 

 

Scriptural Verses to Ponder

Can you grab your Bible? You’ll want to see this for yourself, trust me! Before we turn the pages of the Word of God, let me tell you that these verses will set you free. They will change your thinking and show you that God loves YOU and wants you to be set free from abuse. God never planned, never designed a woman to suffer at the hands of a man by abuse. 

Luke 4:18-19

Are you ready? Turn with me to Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Did you see it there? Jesus states that the reason why he came to earth was to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.

Does that do something for you? Do you get it? I would definitely say that this applies to wives in abusive marriages! Jesus came to set you free! 

I know this is a new thought to you but think about it for a minute. If Jesus condoned abuse of any kind, why was He so compassionate to the woman caught in adultery? Or kind to the woman at the well? Jesus has a heart for women and children and He won’t tolerate when they are mistreated in any way. 

When a husband oppresses his wife and sins against her, should the wife continue to enable him? Does this send the message to the husband that his behaviour is acceptable? Is that the message you want to send?

Malachi 2:16

Let’s look at another verse. Turn to Malachi 2:16.  It is true that God hates divorce. We know that but here’s what the KJV says about it “For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

The NASB is easier to understand so let’s look at it. “For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”

Can you see what this is teaching us? God hates it when a man covers up what he does with wrongdoing. God does not approve of abuse or oppression. He does not like it when a man treats his wife in a manner that does not show love and compassion. 

Acts 10:34

Here’s another verse to ponder, Acts 10:34, “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:” KJV. God does not show favouritism towards anyone. He loves us all the same. And when His daughters are being mistreated, He won’t turn a blind eye to them, allowing them to continue living a life of abuse. 

If we were to go back to read from Isaiah and Jeremiah or even some of the Minor Prophets, we would see that God does not like it when people bully others. The biblical term is “oppression” but we can also call it ‘bullying’. 

In the Old Testament, we have read accounts where God dealt with those who mercilessly oppressed others. 

So, does God approve of abuse within marriages? If you’re not sure, we can certainly find many more verses that teach us what God approves of and disapproves of. Perhaps that will be another post but for now, can you see your way through this? 

 

What to do Next

There are many posts that describe the next steps to take. I’m going to link a few of them for you but I want to give you a basic list in case you are not able to read these other posts. 

Abuse in Marriage | God Loves You No Matter What | What to do to Leave an Abusive Marriage

 

You need to make a plan to leave. Here are a few basic thoughts to start with.

  1. If there are children involved, you definitely need to leave the marital home for the safety of yourself and your children.
  2. Initially, consult a lawyer to learn of your rights. Many women stay in their abusive marriages because they
    1. are afraid to leave as they were continuously told they couldn’t make it on their own;
    2. may not work or have money and are dependent on their abusive husband;
    3. do not know of resources that are available to help them.
  3. If it is possible, save some money for yourself. Hide it if you have to. Is there someone you can trust? Someone who is in your corner and will support you? Can you leave the money there?
  4. Pack a ‘getaway’ bag for yourself and your children. If you can hide it in the home, fine, but if you can leave it at a trusted friend’s home, that may be better. 
  5. Once you are away, whether you are at a shelter for women and children or staying with a friend, do not contact your husband. It is way too early for discussion. 
  6. Do you have spiritual leadership that you trust? Will they help you to be safe from your husband? If so, contact them, tell them of your situation and ask for help. 

There are other steps you can take and these links will help you with other things you need to think about. 

 

Doing What Needs to be Done

God has shown me His agape love since that day I left on June 27, 2010. I was on medical leave for three weeks as I was diagnosed with depression. I didn’t even know I was depressed! During those first few weeks, after my time of crying out to God asking Him if He still loved me, He showed me over and over just how much He loved me. And He still does. 

My relationship with my ex-husband had me scared. Though he could not walk well at the time, I was still terrified that he would come after me. His voice scared me and if I saw him in the grocery store, sometimes I left the store to return later when I knew he wasn’t around. I didn’t want to talk with him in public because I didn’t know if he would scream at me or not. His voice scared me that much! 

Anytime I went back to the house to get my things, I always made sure I had someone with me. I needed a witness just in case things got out of hand. I also journaled everything he said to me, whether on the phone or in person. I needed that journal to remind myself of why I left him because I knew that at some point I would think, ‘things weren’t so bad, maybe I’ll go back to him.’ That journal became my memory. 

I sought a legal separation six months later but it took another six months to complete the process. Even the meetings we had with my lawyer (he didn’t have one) showed his true colours. He was rude and belligerent to my lawyer at times. I wouldn’t talk to him but let my lawyer speak for me. 

 

Abuse in Marriage | God Loves You No Matter What | What to do to Leave an Abusive Marriage

 

I need to say that I attended two counselling services, one with the hospital chaplain (my workplace) and one with a social worker. The hospital chaplain discharged me after a few months saying that he didn’t see that I was vindictive or out to get him or anything. In fact, he thought that my attitude towards my husband was very Christ-like as I had been paying him support (think big $$$) even before a legal separation agreement was drafted. 

The other counselling service lasted a year. I attended weekly and after a year she also discharged me saying that I was going to be okay. 

Here’s something interesting. My ex-husband told me he also went for counselling. I had only been asking him to do that for several years and finally, he went. The kicker is that he went to only one session and he was told that ‘it is all in her head and she will return when she’s ready.” As if I was on a vacation! My counsellor was shocked that another counsellor said such a thing to him! 

 

Life after Marital Abuse

Long story short, I am divorced as of October 2011. God allowed me to meet another man and together we’ve been married since December 2012. I feel loved, I feel special. He never raises his voice though I kept expecting to hear him yell at me. There was an adjustment period for me as I wasn’t used to being treated with respect. Today, life is great. We serve the LORD together, we go everywhere together. Well, almost, he doesn’t like mall shopping or girly things, hehe. 

I hope that by sharing my story with you, that you can find some encouragement to know

  • You don’t have to stay in an abusive marriage
  • That God loves you even if you leave your marriage
  • There is no shame in asking for help
  • That people will support you when you decide to leave
  • That life can be good. It doesn’t have to be bad all the time. 

If something I said encourages you, will you leave me a comment to let me know? 

Also, don’t forget to check the links from other women who have been in the same situation and were able to leave behind lives of oppression to accept a future free from abuse.

Feel free to check these other posts that speak to abuse in marriage:

Emotional Abuse in a Christian Marriage by Becky at soveryblessed.com

The Day the Lord Set Me Free from My Marriage by Alice Mills, guest post for Leah Grey at greyministries.com. If you check out Leah’s site, you will find a lot of other resources regarding Domestic Violence that you may find helpful.

Susan has a list of resources and phone numbers here: Susan Call – Resources at susancall.com Susan is also the author of A Search for Purple Cows, A True Story of Hope, the story of her journey from darkness to light through God’s amazing grace.

 

9 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. You are right – leaving is hard and takes courage. But, God shows up in ways we could never imagine. I’m amazed by how many of us share this past. I”m so thankful that God loves us and helps find a way out. Praying that your post reaches many. Thank you for your vulnerability. Blessings!

    1. Hi Susan, thanks for stopping by today. Yes, I’m surprised by the number of women who have similar pasts. May God help them as they deal with it and for those who are in the trenches now, may God reveal His great love to them and give them the courage they need to deal with things. I hope many will check out your link and book as well!

  2. Cindy, thank you for making yourself vulnerable and for sharing your story. I’ve met several women who feel so isolated and frightened in their abusive marriages. I’m praying your words will give them the courage to know they are not alone and that they are loved! God bless you!

  3. Cindy, this post is so needed (sadly) in our world today. I cried as I read it, you eloquently convey much of what so many women experience in abusive marriages. My mom was married to two abusive men, for the first 16 years of my life, and she never really recovered emotionally. I had to do a lot of personal work to prevent repeating that cycle in my own life. I have a girlfriend who was killed in an abusive marriage 3 years ago, staying for the kids, and another who stayed her whole life (she is 67 now) and he left her. Her children all are in abusive relationships now themselves. This is not a rare thing in the church, and people need scriptural tools to help and this article really provides that. I am so glad to have these scriptures to encourage friends when abuse is happening and your story gives clear help to someone who is ready to leave. Thank you so much for this post.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Rosemarie! I am so sorry to hear of your friends who were caught in the abuse trap. That breaks my heart and yet I know there are many more women who are in marriages that are breaking them apart, emotionally and physically. Thank you for sharing my post and I, too, hope it will be of help to others. Knowing that God loves us no matter what and that He does not condone abuse is HUGE! That is the message I want women to take from this that God loves us and we must take steps to free ourselves from abusive situations.
      Blessings to you, Rosemarie. Thanks again for stopping by today!

  4. Thank you for sharing this story. God wil never hate u for divorce. Instead he will applaud u for having the courage to leave an abusive man. I m working for women rights and sadly many in my country face marital rape but there is no law for it.

    1. Thank you for reading my story, Snehu. I do believe that God still hates divorce but He never approves of His daughters being abused. And yes, that is sad that there is no law against marital rape and abuse in your country. I pray you are an advocate for women in your country and be a law-maker. Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Yes God wud never approve Abuse. And secondly those who keep getting abused and remain silent thinking God wil help them , Sorry but God helps those who help themselves.So we need to be strong, come forward and fight for our rights . Take care 🙂

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