As told by “Sophia” and written by Lauren Rose
At the beginning of our relationship, my soon-to-be husband was very attentive. There were definite red flags, but he rushed the relationship. He insisted on being in constant communication with me. If anything happened with my teens, he ran to my house to “assist.” Looking back, he was worried their dad would come, and he did not want me to have any communication with their father. Looking back, I realize what was disguised as kindness was the beginning of his taking control over me.
A month after we were married, I went to dinner with a friend for her birthday. When I got home, he was jealous and suspicious. He started questioning the night’s events, became very aggressive, and twisted my words against me. He spent the entire night circling the bed and fussing at me.
At first, I thought it was an isolated instance. I changed going to dinner with friends to keep from upsetting him again. I became more submissive to try to appease him.
I finally confided in a close friend, who didn’t live in the same state, about my husband’s “anger issues.” She was very supportive and concerned as she saw the abuse clearly and was concerned my husband would kill me if I didn’t get out. She had me document our conversations, and I began keeping a journal. I hid the journal at work and told her where it was in case something happened to me. She also directed me toward tons of educational materials that were extremely helpful.
Did I mention my husband was a pastor?
I couldn’t reach out to the church for help. I also did not want to tarnish my husband’s image with the congregations of our churches. After I left the last time, I reached out to the lay leaders of each church after my husband admitted to them, he had “anger issues” and was seeking help. The leaders supported me. They reported my husband’s abuse to the church’s district superintendent, who was also very supportive. My husband was directed to go to counseling by a medical professional. At first, he refused, but the church’s district superintendent required updates from the counselor, forcing him to go. My husband went to counseling but was not truthful. The counselor wanted to meet with me alone. I agreed and told the counselor everything. Once my husband was exposed, he never returned to counseling.
When my children left, I wasn’t allowed to help or assist them in any way. After leaving, my children told me they had discussed what they would do if my husband killed me. They expressed that they were very concerned for my safety.
The resources and support from Called to Peace Ministries (CTPM) were very helpful through my healing journey. I discovered CTPM when a friend connected me with Joy Forrest within a week of my last separation. I have used Joy’s book and workbook, Called to Peace: A Survivor’s Guide to Finding Peace and Healing After Domestic Abuse, to help me heal.
Joy’s book gave me the tools and strength to navigate through this process. I was better able to understand that my husband, although he claimed to be a Godly man, was far from that. I learned a lot about spiritual abuse through the resources. My husband used scripture to confuse me and make me believe I was at fault for the abuse and had to stay in the marriage. I was able to move into a place of peace and restoration.
Without the online support, I would have probably returned.
I have made some close friends through the CTPM’s support group. The support of these women has gotten me through some very dark times and has helped me process through the pain. We share our struggles, our triumphs, and life with one another.
I am still in the healing process. I am beginning to find my voice and speak out for the oppressed. I want my voice to be one of hope and strength for other women.
My advice to other women who are in an abusive relationship: Educate yourself and surround yourself with supportive people. Pray and ask God for guidance. Listen to God and follow where He leads.