As a survivor of marital abuse, it is powerful for me to see the lies I was entrapped in during my marriage, as opposed to the freedom that I bask in now. Truthfully, it has only been a year since I actively started the process of breaking free, however, the difference between life now and life then is undeniable.
One of the greatest fears many victims have is being alone during and after the escape from abuse. Sometimes, that fear holds a victim in an abusive relationship with the thought, Well, at least I’m not alone. However, I have found that I felt more alone in my marriage than I ever have in being single, and have therefore felt the obligation not to keep this journey to myself.
He told me I wasn’t allowed to have fun without him.
A year ago this month, I went to the zoo with the girls, and that night, he threatened to rape me because “If you can do what you want, I can do what I want.” Fast forward a year and the girls and I have enjoyed taking trips to four more zoos across the state together.
He told me my friends were unreliable and my family fake. Fast forward a year, my family and friends are all the kids know as family because anyone else, including him, didn’t show up when it mattered.
He told me I was hurting the girls and tearing the family apart. Fast forward a year, the girls’ teachers have remarked on the emanating light, certainty, and progress they have made in the months away from an unsafe home environment. One of them has finally started speaking sentences, a year after most others her age.
He told me my writing should stay quiet because life should stay private and why would anyone listen to me anyway? Fast forward a year, I’ve gained three times the audience I started with, launched on another platform, and received several messages from readers who say: “I needed this. I thought I was alone.”
He told me church was taking me away from him. He saw a renewed light in my faith and sought to quench it. Fast forward a year, my faith is my rock, the truth has set me free, and my church has been at the core of my healing in grace and truth.
He told me I wouldn’t have support and that I’d be doing life alone.
Fast forward a year, I realize that I finally don’t feel alone, especially without him. Ironically, one of that same church’s core values is “We don’t do life alone.” They even helped me move out in two hours.
He told me I was nothing without him. Fast forward a year—without him—I’ve reclaimed who I am, I’ve regained purpose, and I’ve reestablished a clear foundation.
He told me I would never find a love like his. Fast forward a year, and he was right. I have not found a love like his—this love is safe, founded in common values and faith, mutual respect, and friendship.
So to all victims and survivors of abuse (and to my abusive ex who used his trauma as an excuse to inflict trauma on others):
I pray all of you—including my abuser—find healing.
I hope that what you are told, what you tell others, and what you tell yourself, gets shifted by truth and grace. I pray that the day you step toward freedom is followed by groundbreaking change, so that fast forward one year, you are 180 degrees from where you were.
And in the meantime, when I hear his voice of seven years still trying to tear me down, I will look back at this year marked by tears, triumph, and truth and continue to share my story so others know they are not alone.