My pastors and I had made the difficult decision not to hide the
abuse from our church family any longer. As a member of the Praise Team, I was accustomed to standing before the congregation,
but this particular evening, the bruises on my face made the public appearance a bit more difficult.
Due to the unusual absence of my husband, the person responsible for the bruises and an associate pastor of our church,
it was imperative that the issue be dealt with as quickly, delicately and honestly as possible.
He was evading arrest. This was the second time within six months he had tried to kill me.
In my distress, I called upon the Lord….
Friday, 8:30 a.m., August 29, 2003
“Jesus won’t help you!”
With those words ringing in my ears, John’s loafer-encased
foot came crashing down onto my face. Then, as suddenly as the violence started—it stopped.
I sent up a silent prayer of thanks to the Lord saying, “Yes
you did help me, because everything stopped.”
It hadn’t yet occurred to me that I was lying on my back, staring at the ceiling,
in the opposite direction and in a completely different position than I had been in just moments (or so I thought) before
when I had cried out to Jesus for help.
It wasn’t until John stopped his ranting and frenzied pacing
back and forth, looked down at me, and said, “Oh my God, look at you,” that I realized something else must
have happened. It also began to dawn on me that I could not raise myself up from the floor. I wasn’t in any pain; I
simply could not get up.
After John lifted me off the floor at my request, I knew I must
have been injured very badly. Besides not being able to sit or stand without assistance, I was afraid I was going into shock;
although it was August and very hot outside, I was freezing. I was shivering violently.
I asked him if he would take me to the emergency room. He said,
“No, you’ll call the police.” When I asked if I could call
someone else to take me to the emergency room, he said, “No, either God will take care of you or he won’t.”
It was obvious he was afraid he had fatally injured me, and I could
see that my repeated requests for help were beginning to agitate him. I knew I had said all I could safely get away with,
so from that point on, I would ask for help only from God. I consigned myself to his care and began praying for rescue.
There was a telephone on the nightstand just next to the bed I was
lying on, but I was too injured to even reach for it. Unable to do the slightest thing for myself, a portion of the sermon
our assistant pastor had preached just two days previously kept running and rerunning through my mind, “The devil,”
he said, “comes to steal, to kill and to destroy, but I have come….” Those words were a like
a lifeline to me. I repeated them over and over to myself and said to the Lord, “You came, Jesus. You came.”
But the circumstances looked hopeless. I was injured, isolated and
completely helpless. I was at the mercy of a man who had just tried to kill me and was steadfastly refusing to allow me to
receive help of any kind. He was more willing to allow me to die than to face arrest and possible incarceration for attacking
John was on a frightening emotional roller coaster. His behavior
was erratic and unpredictable. At times he appeared very calm, then for no apparent reason, he would begin raging against
women—particularly those he felt wanted to rule over men. I knew my position was precarious at best. Whenever I was
forced to speak to him or answer his questions, I had to choose my words very carefully. I knew only the Holy Spirit could
navigate the minefield I now found myself in and keep me alive until help came.
It concerned me greatly, that I didn’t have a definite sense
of the Lord’s presence. I remember thinking, “God, where are you?” He answered my question with a question
of his own, “Do you feel this peace?”
Yes I did.
And I knew that peace only came from one source—God. It was good
to know I wasn’t alone.
I hadn’t looked in the mirror, so I didn’t know I had
what the emergency room physician would later describe as “raccoon eyes.” I had not yet seen that my right jaw
was grotesquely swollen, though it concerned me that I could not close my mouth completely (I could not bring my teeth
together). I did know that I could not sit or stand without assistance (walking was completely out of the question). I was
very nauseous, and each time John lifted me to a sitting position, I began retching violently. If he let go of me, I collapsed
like a rag doll. I was having problems with my vision; whenever I moved even slightly, the vertical hold on the room would
spin out of control. Within a short time, I also realized blood was seeping from both ears. My right hand and arm were fairly
useless, and (besides a mild headache) were the only source of pain I experienced. That was my condition for the next 20 hours
Sometime during the night I woke up and realized I felt different.
I felt better.
I thought, “I think I can sit up,” and I sat
I thought, “I think I can stand up,” and I stood
I thought, “I think I can walk.” And I walked!
I knew that a supernatural healing from God had just taken place.
This was an exciting development. The first thing that occurred
to me, of course, was not to tell John. I reasoned that if he thought I was still helpless, he might let his guard down, and
I could escape. But instructions from the Holy Spirit came quickly and clearly—I was not to try and deceive him. It
didn’t seem logical, but I knew I had heard from God, so the next morning I confided to him that I had been able to
get up by myself during the night. His answer was chilling. He said, “I know—I was awake.”
But the peace of God guarded my heart, and I was in a deep sleep
most of the time. I awoke at some point during the second morning and found myself alone; of course I headed straight
for the phone. But it wasn’t there. John had removed all of the phones from the house.
This was a big problem, because even though the visual disturbances
I had been experiencing were now under control, my balance was still extremely bad, and I was too slow and unsteady on my
feet to attempt leaving the house with no guarantee that anyone near by would be at home to help me.
We had a large fenced yard that, in my condition, looked as large
as a football field. I knew it would take me quite a while just to make it to the street. And if John came home before I cleared
the yard, it would take no effort at all for him to drag me back inside. If that happened, there wasn’t a doubt in my
mind that I would not survive the consequences of trying to escape. I was confident the Spirit of the Lord was leading me
not to try just yet, so I laid back down and drifted off to sleep.
When John returned, I asked, “Am I a prisoner?”
He said, “No.”
I was nervous about questioning him, but felt a boldness to go on,
“Then why are all the phones gone?” I asked.
He said he had removed them so I would not call the police. I
promised him, before God, that if he would return the phones I would not call the police; and he did. Then he left
But now I had another problem. I had made a vow before God that
I would not call the police. I stared at the phone and mentally worked through my options—breaking my vow was not one
I didn’t know how much time I had before John returned and
anyone I could think of to call lived a good twenty miles away. Simple things overwhelmed me. I couldn’t remember phone
numbers, and I didn’t have my cell phone with my frequently called numbers programmed in it. The phone book wasn’t
any help, because (besides my mother and my pastor) I couldn’t think of anyone to call. I couldn’t remember
who I knew. I picked up the cordless phone, looked at it, thought about it—then carefully replaced it.
I knew I was having a hard time thinking clearly, but, again, I
was confident God was leading. John returned after being gone only a short while and made a point of looking to see if the
phone had been moved. It hadn’t. I had returned it exactly as he left it. Then after a few hours, he left again.
This time with no hesitation, I picked up the phone and quickly
dialed my pastor’s cell phone number. God’s timing is always perfect. My pastor and his wife were in my neighborhood,
just blocks from my home. Within minutes I was safely on my way to the emergency room where X-rays and an MRI confirmed what
I already knew; nothing was broken, and there was no internal bleeding, because God had already healed me of the most serious
of the injuries inflicted 32 hours earlier.
There is no doubt in my mind that I should not be alive today. Had
it not been for the immediate and supernatural intervention of a great and mighty God, my life and death would already
be a statistic. My family and friends would most certainly have found me within a few days—beaten to death.
And every year on August 29th, they would celebrate a
grizzly anniversary. Some of them would make regular pilgrimages to my gravesite to offer me flowers and heavy hearts filled
with remorse. They would remember missed opportunities, and guilt would gnaw at them for the miserable comforts they had offered
in their frantic concern for my safety. They would wish with all their hearts they could take back unkind and condescending
words they now understood had only acted as wedges—alienating them from their beloved daughter, sister, mother or friend.
But what could they have done differently? What could my Pastor,
family or friends have said or done that could have helped me? What could I have done that could have helped me, and
why couldn’t I have done it sooner?
These questions must be answered. Lives depend on it.
It is time to stop all the useless rhetoric. Why doesn’t
she just leave? If she stays, she deserves what she gets, well if I were her….
Well we’re not!
There was a time in my own life when I used to say the same hateful
things. I knew that I would never tolerate abuse. My attitude towards the battered woman was more condescending than
compassionate. Certainly she was an object of my pity but more so of my contempt—until I unwillingly joined her ranks.
Then I experienced first hand the terrible dynamics that bind a
wife to an abusive husband.
If these articles help shed only a little light into a very dark
arena from the perspective of one who has been there but is there no longer, if it can help induce compassion where formerly
there was little or none, perhaps save a few lives and give a happy ending to someone else’s story, then they will have
accomplished their purpose.
In this I am reminded of the story about a small boy walking along
a beach that was littered with dying starfish. It seemed thousands of them had been washed ashore, but the little boy walked
patiently among them throwing them back, one by one, into the ocean.
A gentleman approached the boy and asked why he bothered. How in
the world, the man asked, did he think he could make a difference? There were just too many to throw them all back.
In reply, the little boy simply picked up another starfish, tossed it into the waves and said, “It makes a difference
to this one.”
Being a support to a battered or abused woman is a frustrating experience
at best and fearful at worst. She is often indecisive and cannot be counted on to follow through with her declarations and
promises to get out of the line of fire. Her abuser holds tremendous emotional sway over her—and we don’t. The
temptation is great to throw up our hands and say, “I’m through with you! You deserve what you get! Let yourself
be beaten to death if that’s what you want!”
But don’t do it.
We need to remember that we are simply inconvenienced—she is genuinely suffering. Our friendship and support
can make all the difference to an abused woman in the face of seemingly overwhelming circumstances. Our friendship and support
can help make her existence a little more bearable, thereby giving her the strength to make choices that, ultimately,
may help to change her circumstances—and possibly even save her life.