Abuse. Not a word I ever thought would be in my history. Never in a million years would I have imagined I would be a victim of domestic violence. I was married to the man I loved. He was not only my partner; he was my friend. We did everything together; we even went to church. Yet somehow, over time, I found myself in a place of bondage and oppression. It was like I was in Egypt, and he was the Pharaoh.
God delivered me from that dry and weary land. It’s a place I hope to never visit again. Yet I feel I must go back, at least through sharing my story, so that I can help bring others—women, children, and even men—out of their Egypt, their place of bondage, so that they can walk with their heads held high and live a life of victory.
It’s been years since I walked out of my home, away from a place that should have been a refuge, away from the one who should have been my protector. Even after all this time, I still ask that loaded three-letter-word question: “Why?”
I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand the answer. I don’t know why. But I don’t think I could have done anything differently in my marriage to have avoided the abuse. If it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else. And actually, unfortunately, it may very well be someone else right now.
Even if I had been “perfect” (something no one can be), he still would have found fault. I know because I tried. I tried so hard to be perfect. I poured the coffee and added the creamer in the order he demanded. I got rid of my NIV Bible and began to read the version that pleased him. I changed churches, left small groups, and quit reading certain devotionals. I checked in with him on my cell phone. I severed relationships with my children, parents, and friends at his command. I even made sure I put the right amount of meat in the Crock-Pot because I knew how upset he would be if I overstuffed it.
Nothing I did and nothing I could have done or said would have changed him. Only God could change the heart of my husband. Only God could help him become the leader of our household the way God intended. Only God could transform him into a man who loved his wife as Christ loved the church…a man who would lay down his life for his wife rather than lay down his fist on her body. (See Ephesians 5:25.)
My abuse started like most domestic-violence situations. He began calling me names, poking fun at me, and mocking me. The verbal abuse soon led to control and manipulation tactics. He started controlling our finances and withholding money, even money I had earned. He pressured me to change my social habits.
Eventually, the poking, mocking, and control tactics turned violent. Threats escalated. He even threatened to kill my pet. No longer was I thrown out of the house (meaning I couldn’t live there for a time period). No, now we entered a season where I was literally and physically thrown out of the house. He threw me down the stairs, choked me, and chased me around the house. The last incident included him beating my head against the floor.
I was hospitalized more than once. Of course, when asked about the cause of my injuries, I lied about what happened. I didn’t want to get him in trouble—I loved him. Besides, it was my fault. It had to be. Each time it happened, I convinced myself that I must have done something to push him over the edge. And I assured myself that I would be better so that this would never happen again.
And every time, like clockwork, he would promise it would never happen again. He even promised he would get help. The truth, however, was that he never did get help and he did do it—again and again and again. And with each incident, the violence escalated.
The turning point came when he attacked me in front of my granddaughter. That’s when I realized the abuse wasn’t just affecting me, it was also affecting the legacy I’d pass on to my family. I needed her to know that it was not okay for somebody to treat you in this manner. It isn’t right for anyone to call you names and hurt you emotionally or physically.
I needed to teach her that her husband should be the one person in the world she could trust to keep her safe, protect her, and love her. He should love God, not use religion as an excuse to make his wife submit. He should bless her and bring out the best in her. He should never oppress and cause her to live in fear.
My granddaughter saved my life that day, and I pray my decision to stand up for what is right will save hers—and others who read my story. People need to know that abuse is wrong, whether it is emotional, physical, or mental. God does not intend for His children to live in bondage, especially in the “bonds of holy matrimony.”
Jesus died on the cross not only for my sins but also for my life. He wants me to live—really live. He wants me to be safe and filled with joy so I can follow Him and serve Him freely. He wants me to love and to be loved. He wants me to live a victorious life. These are the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11).
I know divorce isn’t His will, nor is it what I wanted. But I also know that being abused physically or emotionally is not His will either. God is grieved by the pain inflicted on His beloved.
If you are “living in Egypt” right now—a place of oppression, fear, and bondage—I encourage you to link hands with the One who can lead you out and heal you (Psalm 147:3). Ask the Lord to give you His wisdom and discernment (James 1:5). He will show you how to move forward. Also, seek help for domestic abuse from professionals, and use the laws and courts to help protect you. Having a strong support system and a plan is crucial for your safety.
Will “escaping your Egypt” be easy? No. You’ll be fighting your emotions like never before. You’ll have to fight fear, confusion, and doubt. People you trust—friends, family, even church friends—might turn against you. You’ll have to resist your own thoughts like “It wasn’t really that bad. At least I had somebody. Now look, I’m all alone… I blew it!” Don’t listen to the enemy’s lies. Satan’s goal is to drag you back into bondage.
But God promises, just like He did for the Israelites, to provide for your every need. He will part your Red Sea. He will send manna from heaven. He has done it for me, and He will be faithful to do it for you.
You are not alone. God is by your side, and He will show you each step to take. Sometimes those steps will be small and sometimes they’ll be huge, but one by one, they will move you forward to the freedom Christ died to give you.
Let me close with Leviticus 26:13 (NLT). It is a great reminder that the Lord desires for us to walk with our heads held high—to live victoriously, not in defeat and shame. It says, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high.”