3 Years, 1096 days, 26,304 hours….

As I write this at 9pm October 5th 2021 I can’t help but reflect back to 9pm October 5th 2018. The night my world turned upside down and I made the hardest yet best decision I have ever had to make. The moment I decided that I would do whatever it took to protect my boys and myself from further harm. The night I realized that my husband truly did not love me or his sons. The night I saw the evil that was in our home and had taken over our lives. The scales were starting to come off my eyes and I KNEW in my heart that things would never get better between us. I knew that if I stayed I was sentencing my boys to a life of pain and guaranteeing that they grew up hating God, hating life. I did not know at the time that what I had been experiencing for over 15 years was domestic violence. I did not know that October was domestic violence awareness month. I did not know about marital rape or coercive control. I did not know what gaslighting was or that I had been suffering from spiritual abuse or understand that I had been lied to and deceived in the most astonishing ways. No, I didn’t know any of that. All I knew is that if I didn’t get out, it would kill me.

1096 days have come and gone. I am thankful for each one, not because they have been easy but because I am alive and I am free. I did not know how much I didn’t know. I count it as God’s mercy that I didn’t know how hard it would be to get through the legal battles, the continued abuse and violations, the emotional trauma of my kids and the very difficult road to true healing for myself. If I had known I might not have had the courage to leave. But then again, if I had known about the immense joy, the peaceful nights, the closeness of the Lord, the deep and authentic relationships forged, the laughter and prayers coming from my children’s lips, and the profound truths that have set me free I might have left many years earlier.

But I believe that God’s timing is always perfect. I had to stop beating myself up for staying so long, or for marrying him in the first place and realize that even in those “mistakes” God never took his hand from me. I would not be who I am now if I had not gone through the fire. I would not know of the richness of forgiveness or have the deep capacity for compassion. I would not have this clear picture of who God created me to be. Some days I still struggle to see myself as God sees me. The voice of my abuser is still there in my head, whispering to me what a waste of space I am, but now I have the tools to fight that voice.

My hope this October as I try and educate others about domestic violence, is that Gods truth and light reach the darkest places. That hearts are restored. There is life after abuse. There is joy and fullness and richness in knowing God’s love for us. There is always a way out. There are people who know how to help. Life can be beautiful again, you children can heal and you will survive.

Your life is worth fighting for.

Not sure where to start or if you are even experiencing Domestic Violence? Check out https://www.calledtopeace.org