Sitting behind the clothes in the back of a pitch black closet, I could still hear him banging on the door. He screamed my name out in a warning. I wondered if maybe I could climb out the window onto the roof before he broke through, but I was paralyzed by fear. I prayed to a God I didn’t know yet, begging him to protect me, pleading with him for a way out of this.
Moments before, a fight in the living room had escalated quickly as they often did. I laid on the cold hardwood as his fist hit the floor next to me. A fist that was meant for me. In a moment of adrenaline, I kicked him, freeing myself. Running, I turned the corner toward the stairs and saw my boyfriend’s 2-year-old son screaming out in terror. It broke me. Just as quickly as my heart broke, I felt hands grasping at my ankles trying to pull me down the wooden steps until I made it to our bedroom and slammed the door, locking it as quickly as I could.
This was the life I lived for nearly four years. Every bit of my life was controlled: what I wore, who I called, where I went. I was used, manipulated, and abused.
That evening when the yelling had stopped, I took a breath and opened the door. Holding his sweet little boy who I had grown to love in his arms, he said, “I wouldn’t do this, but you just make me so mad.”
The words sent a chill down my spine. A flashback of a little girl rushed into my mind. She looked up with tears in her eyes as her mother’s boyfriend said, “I wouldn’t be this way, but your mom just makes me so mad.” That little girl was me. And as I looked in the red eyes of an innocent toddler, I knew I wanted more for him. The thought of allowing another child to experience the suffering I did made me nauseous. That was the day I decided to leave my abuser. In the closet upstairs, I had asked God to help me get out. That was a prayer I would pray every night until finally, his answer was now.
The only friends I had at this point were friends my boyfriend didn’t know much about: work friends. My dearest friend at the time came up with the plan. We would take a day off together and go to my house to pack as much of my stuff as possible into our cars. From clothes, to dishes, to the george foreman grill I’d used the night before (which was found by a cop who searched my car months later by the way—a story for another time), most of my stuff would vanish from our home, as well as me. This friend graciously opened her apartment to me for as long as I needed. I was free.
Yet I was still in bondage. As I look back, though I was still at this point very much living in rebellion toward God, I am certain this was planned by him long before I prayed for an escape. It was a stepping stone toward salvation. From here, I would continue in promiscuity more than ever, until God would allow me to fall into the arms of a man he would use to open my eyes. A couple years later, I would find myself alone in my room crying out to God to save me. And he did.
I’m not sure why I’m telling you this. Partially, I think, out of pure amazement at the hand of the God who called me as his own before the foundation of the world. Maybe also to share a part of me I’ve not yet shared this openly. Maybe it’s simply because, as I worked on a different article this memory came alive. All I know is, I long to encourage. I don’t know if or how this may encourage someone, but I know God can use even this part of my story. So I share. I pray he’ll do his work with it.
If you are in an abusive relationship, whether physical or emotional, I pray you will seek help today. I know you may love the person who’s hurting you. I know what it’s like to be confused from the manipulation and feel like it’s all your fault. It is not your fault. Please reach out to someone you can trust for help.