As told by “Christy,” and written by Lauren Rose
When I met my spouse in college, our relationship was intense and very physical, which I now know led to me overlooking many red flags. He was a charming, Type A personality with a strong work ethic; everyone respected him. I had always had trouble making friends and with academics at school; I also grew up with a controlling yet primarily absent mother. Looking back, I know these unresolved wounds prepared the perfect “rescuer role” that my soon-to-be husband could step right into. Everyone who knew me made me feel very lucky to have found someone who had everything together, that would like someone like me.
On our honeymoon, he began to withdraw physically – no holding hands or any of the other affections I had come to enjoy in our relationship. He started to argue a little louder at home, increasing personal jabs and lies, and blaming me for how he treated me.
My marriage quickly became part of many twisting mind games, tearing down who I was as an individual made in the image of God. His overall disapproval of me began to lurk just under the surface, ready to lash out anytime he needed to feel that rush of power and control.
Our marriage didn’t include sweet moments of love, nor did it seem to escalate in abuse over time. However, the gaslighting and lying, his lack of affection and withdrawal from me, devaluation, and twisting of scripture destroyed me greater as years went by. It made things worse when I tried to become a better communicator, learn his love language or personality type, and change myself based on who he was to heal our relationship.
God used many things to peel back the layers and show me the truth of our destructive marriage. Our pastor shared a message from the pulpit with disclaimers about how a husband who uses power and control to force submission from his wife is not a picture of Christ nor does he call wives to submit to. Next week, there was a message about how God calls us to walk in truth, will give us the strength we need to do so, and will be by our side as we make those hard choices.
These messages got my heart ready for the day my husband finally revealed the truth to me. I always tried to excuse my husband’s abuse by saying, “I know that work today was very stressful for you.” And one day, he stopped me and said, “No, it’s not my work or stress that is the problem; it is just you!”
Those words hit like a cannonball to the heart but also shattered the delusion that kept me in denial.
I went to my church for help, and though they agreed that it was very unhealthy, they were against labeling his behavior as abusive. They put us in marriage and individual counseling. While God did use individual counseling to show me how to look to him for my worth, there was a lot of harm done in marriage counseling.
Sadly, with no training in domestic violence, they were charmed by my husband and angered by the fact that I would not stop calling his behavior abuse. They wanted me to “forget the past and work on communication skills with my husband, ‘who was just desperate to save our marriage.'”
My husband was never confronted with his abusive behavior, so he never had to choose responsibility for his actions and kept blaming me for all the problems.
My husband told our children that I ruined our family and his job with my false abuse claims. I pray that God can heal the hurt places in my children and that they know the difference between normal disagreements and abuse.
I joined a Called to Peace Ministries (CTPM) support group, which has meant so much to me on my journey of healing. It was amazing to see the patterns shown on the power and control wheel and to know that there was a reason that the oppression hurt so profoundly.
It was powerful to see the heads of all the women in my support group from across the United States nodding together as our leader talked about patterns of abuse. Tears filled our eyes time and time again. We learned from God’s word how to replace the lies that we have believed with His truth that sets us free.
CTPM sent me a care package during my first Christmas alone. All the things in the box, including the snuggly blanket, were such a comfort to me and reminded me of my support group’s love and prayers.
This past Christmas, CTPM blessed me with a Christmas gift card. I needed help to get gifts for my three children since everything I have is going to my lawyer to protect me from my abuser.
My life is still a challenge; I still have lots of healing needed. I am still in my support group and feel the love and acceptance of God through the other women in our group. They are all kind, pointing me to my God’s love constantly.
Advice to other women: I would encourage anyone to contact Called to Peace Ministries, whether you are just wondering if you are experiencing abuse or have known for years. They understand, listen, and help. They are a true blessing straight from the heart of a loving God who hates what has happened to you. He wants to wrap His arms of love around you, and He can use CTPM to do just that!