A Stronger Story
1. When did you first hear about Stronger?
I first heard about Stronger in January of 2016 after only 2 weeks of relocating to Texas. I was reaching out and researching for support and was told about the organization.
2. Describe the most valuable part of Stronger!
Being a part of Stronger has definitely been valuable for several reasons, the top 3 being:
- I am no longer alone. Fortunately, I share a common hurt with many women. For me, being around other survivors continues to enhance my healing.
- I had my AHA moment the second round of taking the course. A fellow survivor opened up and shared an unsettling intimate detail of her pain. I too experienced it identically! I hadn’t shared it up until that point because I was ashamed. It was pure joy finally knowing it was not MY fault. The mind and body are in sync but sometimes its hard to understand the disconnect. A deeper healing began once I realized this.
- I now have all the tools for ensuring that my next partner wouldn’t ever hurt me; emotionally, sexually, or physically. I will not ever be with a man who doesn’t cherish me and love me like Christ loves his church. My next love will adore everything about me and not ever feel threatened or be jealous of me. Thank you Stronger for empowering me with these tools.
3. Tell us your Story!
I knew something was wrong with my marriage but I was taught to believe that divorce is not ever an option. I signed my divorce papers 11 years and 2 months after we committed to a lifetime together. The sad reality of it all is that what my body knew 16 months into our marriage...took 8 years and 6 months later for my mind to realize it too. Yet and still I didn’t know what was wrong, but I knew he hadn’t cheated so I did what I was taught to do, I stayed. Reflect with me a moment… I grew up in a home where both of my parents were distracted by their substance addictions. My father’s addiction prevented him from being active in my life and my mother’s addiction prevented her from being emotionally present in my life. So I grew up with a complex of not being good enough for my parents to notice me. To me being noticed = being loved. Even though I made straight A’s and stayed out of trouble, that wasn’t enough for my parents to love me. My saving grace was doing the best I could in school and attending church, regularly.
I met him my second semester in college. He had just gotten stationed at his first duty station. We met at church. He was a virgin, I was a virgin, we shared the same faith and above all he noticed me. It was a match made in heaven, we married 3 years to the day we met. I’m so thankful for the life we had; we traveled the world together and made two beautiful children. Reflecting back I remember how unfamiliar he had become to me over the years. I began to transform into the women I was to be and he didn’t like that. Things I wanted to change about myself he frowned upon and I didn’t understand why. The control and manipulation was there all along although I was ignorant of it. First he punched a hole in the wall just months after we married, 8 years later he repeatedly punched the mattress we shared which happened to be mere inches from my face.
June 23 is a day I will not ever forget. On this day I finally found out what was wrong with my marriage. Even as I rested in that cold emergency room unable to open my eyes or to cry because of the concussion, in addition to the deep intricate wounds I sustained, God was with me. I felt His presence His intense peace protecting me as I shivered frightfully. Even though I am still processing everything I was relieved to finally know what was wrong with my marriage. That night my kids lost their dad. I not only lost my husband and friend but my trust, my confidence. That night our two children witnessed their dad beat their mom beyond recognition. And all the three of us could do was scream for him to stop. But he didn’t. He drug me by my hair, the same hair he didn’t approve of me to get. That night was the last time I would ever submit to his control…
Months before that night I had mentally checked out of the marriage. I knew I wanted to get away but hadn’t mapped out a plan just yet because I couldn’t justify why I wanted to leave, scripturally. We were back in counseling, again. But going this time was just making it worse. We were both going for different reasons, he was going because he was trying to do anything for me to “fall back in love with him.” I was going because I needed the counselor to help me communicate that I needed to separate from him. I didn’t mention the word divorce because I was afraid of his reaction. Meanwhile, his behavior was becoming more and more irrational. He was showing up randomly at my job and leaving notes, accusing me of cheating on him, waking me up and in the middle of the night telling me he couldn’t live without me, buying me all kinds of expensive items, texting me obsessively and leaving notes around the house. The man I married was a stranger; he became foreign to me, to the point that the way he would look at me would creep me out.
I remember that night like it was yesterday. He came home obviously frustrated. I was up in the room we shared sitting on the floor researching a plan, its like I knew something was about to happen. He came into the room and started arguing with me. Normally I would just ignore him and not say anything. Not this time, I finally spoke up. He told me I was acting like my mother and I told him he was acting like his father. He and our 2 children were headed downstairs to eat dinner but for some reason he sent them back up the stairs to give me a hug. I was still diligently researching on the computer so I told our kids to go downstairs and I would be down shortly. My response angered him. He started arguing with me again, this time about the kids. How dare I not hug our kids when he told them to come and hug me? I closed the laptop and proceeded down the stairs. He was facing me and our two children were behind him trying to get to me. He would not let me get to our children. That’s when I started yelling and telling him that I’d call the police if he didn’t move out of the way. Our son made a dodge for it and tried to run past him to get to me and he pushed our son down the stairs. I tried to maneuver my way down the stairs and that’s when it was over. He pushed me to the ground and drug me into the room then he proceeded to punch me repeatedly in the face. I lost count after the 30th blow. Our children had come into the room and sat right by me screaming for him to stop. But he didn’t. Blood was everywhere. He just kept going. His facial expression was that of a monster and he screamed “this is what you wanted, this is what you wanted.” And as if his fist weren’t destroying me enough, he grabbed my mac book and threw it against my face not once, but twice. I could feel my face swelling. He then started stomping me in my torso. He just kept going and going. All of a sudden I yelled babe, stop. And everything grew silent. I just knew he had gone to the kitchen to get a knife, to kill me. I reached in my purse and texted someone to send the police to my house ASAP.
That’s when I heard him say “what have I done? I’m going to kill myself.” I said “well before you do, can you take me to the hospital?” I stood up, my children were watching me as I looked in the mirror. I didn’t recognize myself. There was blood everywhere. 1 eye was completely shut and the other was barely open. I grabbed a towel and told our children that mommy was okay that she just needed to go see the doctor and I would be fine. I left our children with him and I proceeded to walk 3 blocks with a fraction of my vision until my ride picked me up. Upon arriving to the hospital doctors told me I would need reconstructive surgery to restore my beautiful features. I sustained multiple injuries but within 3 months God healed my physical wounds and I didn’t need surgery! I am still healing, emotionally. I blamed myself for everything. I was ashamed, embarrassed to the point I begged God on numerous occasions to end my life. I was in a foreign country and all I had was my children. I went to the church and was told by the minister’s wife that divorce was destructive. One member even told me to tell her my relocation plans so she could tell him! And an elder told me to change the wording of the divorce from family violence to adultery so that my divorce would be acceptable unto God. I am forever grateful for the family who opened their home and took care of my children and I.
If only I had loved him more this wouldn’t have happened. But love had nothing to do with it. All of this happened because he never loved me. Today, I am happily divorced and I am healing in my own time. I have learned that just because a person is in the church doesn’t make their advice sound and if you haven’t been in my shoes you have no right to solicit me advice. Above all if the advice you give to someone isn’t good enough for your mom or your daughter then don’t give it to someone else’s mom or daughter.
4. Describe what has changed in your life because of Stronger!
My relationship with Christ. You see before I was so concerned with what people saw. Everyone thought we were the perfect family. I did what other people wanted for me. With Stronger I know that my personal relationship with Christ is most important above all else. Stronger has given me the foundation of healing and has empowered me that I have a life to live that doesn’t include abuse or judgment. Stronger has given me everything the abuse has taken away!
5. What’s Next?
Forgiving him. No I wasn’t the perfect wife, I didn’t greet him with a hug and kiss every day he came home from work, I told him no to sex on several occasions and his dinner was hardly ever prepared, yet and still I didn’t deserve what he did to me. But he deserves to be forgiven, in fact we all do. We need God’s grace and mercy to make it through life. I am working on it. And in time God will remove the hurt from my heart.
Looking forward to whatever it is God has planned for me. Even on my roughest days I would not ever go back to him. Yet and still, with all I’ve been through, I am confident that God didn’t pull me out of that loveless and abusive marriage to just leave me hanging now. You see, leaving was easy but rebuilding my life has been one of the hardest challenges I choose to conquer each day. No matter how hard it gets I will not ever go back to that.
God has amazing plans not only for me, but for my children as well. And the only way I will know what He has for me is by choosing to live. I will continue to empower women by teaching her the red flags and reinforcing her how valuable and beautiful she is in the sight of God.