As told by “Kasey,” written by Lauren Rose
When I was first dating my soon-to-be husband, it didn’t take long for several red flags to begin appearing…but I was too young, naïve, and love-starved to recognize them.
Immediately after we married, he suddenly wanted nothing to do with me physically. I thought, I’m a good Christian girl; I saved myself for my husband. What is wrong with me?
I initiated going to counseling about the lack of intimacy. We only went one time, and it was useless. I resigned myself to the fact that God destined me to this life, and because He hated divorce, I was stuck.
During the first affair (at least, the first one that I knew about), I reached out to a friend of mine who was a secretary at our church. Unfortunately, she then informed the pastor what was going on; he, in turn, called both my husband and me into the church for a meeting. My husband essentially admitted the affair, but vaguely excused himself by maintaining that his life “wasn’t fun,” hinting that he had been driven to his indiscretions.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. At that time, he had a great job, got a free wardrobe allowance, and traveled all over the country to posh resorts for work-related meetings…while I stayed home alone, 24/7, with two kids.
Years later, when I discovered multiple porn purchases on our Comcast bill, I contacted my associate pastor. After I expressed my concern that the kids would come down the stairs in the middle of the night (stomachache, “where’s mommy?”) and see not only the porn, but their father masturbating on the couch, the associate pastor told me, and I quote: “Tell your husband to look at the porn when the kids aren’t home.”
My husband’s affairs and neglect of our children increased as he focused on nothing but his pleasure, pursuing a life free of familial responsibility. I kept reaching out to the churches I attended for help, but none of these connections helped at all. I wanted to leave, but I was financially shackled to him, which was terrifying. I also felt that if I ever left, my daughter would not be safe with him alone.
I assumed he was only hurting me with his infidelity and neglect, but I couldn’t even imagine the devastating impact on my children as he became more detached and crueler.
Side note: And this was not atypical of abusers: experts estimate that 55% to 70% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household! -House of Peace Pubs Advocacy Course
My husband’s entitled and self-seeking heart trickled into how he viewed and treated our children with verbal abuse and neglect. My husband verbally and emotionally emasculated our son and for the most part, my husband neglected our daughter; his involvement with her rarely went beyond making disparaging comments about women while she was around. It was as if a sinkhole could have opened in the living room and swallowed her whole, and my husband would not have even noticed.
Both of my children are in their mid-twenties now and I have seen the generational cycle of abuse repeat in their lives and it breaks my heart.
By the time I discovered Called to Peace Ministries (CTPM), God had already set me free from my abusive marriage. However, the advocacy courses showed me how the domestic abuse in my childhood changed the trajectory of my emotional development, making an abusive marriage almost inevitable.
The CTPM Advocacy Course represents the most comprehensive, well-researched, well-presented material that I have found to date regarding domestic violence. Going through the courses helped me understand that I lived in domestic abuse as a child; it helped me define what happened during my childhood, which in turn allowed me to extend more grace to myself for “falling for” an abuser and perpetuating the cycle.
My mother raised us according to Gothard’s principles, which left me with the impression that my existence was to serve men. My husband had regularly attended Gothard’s seminars while growing up in a Christian school, so he believed, too, that women existed to serve men. The false teachings convinced me I was “stuck” with my abuser, so I had kids with him. They grew up with a cruel man who had no desire to connect to them and didn’t really want them.
Coercive control/domestic abuse represents an especially cruel form of human maltreatment. When the abuse flows from one adult to another in a marriage relationship, civil authorities, communities, and churches don’t seem to understand the impact this is having on children. The experiences of women and children under coercive control/domestic abuse creates a continual impact of trauma that slowly destroys them over time.
The only thing worse than abuse is realizing that nobody believes that it’s happening to you.
My advice to women who are coming out of abuse: You are not alone. It may sometimes look like everything is spinning out of control…but you do have control of some elements. Partner with an advocate to lock arms with you on this journey; you will absolutely make it. It seems unbelievable, so take it slow. A good trauma counselor can help you process all that has happened, and a seasoned advocate can help you navigate your path ahead. You are not alone; and you are going to make it.