Speaking with Blood, Painting with Words, and Standing Tall

This right here.

I could not read on after seeing the title to this “news article”.  This is exactly why we have to keep speaking out.  Society wants to turn it’s face away; they want to live in denial.

(There are exceptions to this, there are wonderful people who believe you without you saying a word and will help you to safety without asking for an explanation.   And to those people, we are grateful for you)

Everyone wants to pretend that everything is fine. There is no outrage in the community when a woman speaks out, only pitying faces and questions that cut.  We live in a world that chooses to not see, and see they do not. We are the only ones who can change that, and change it we must.

I never saw a mark on you.  Surely it wasn’t that bad.  All relationships have problems.  He’s so nice though.  He wouldn’t hurt a fly. He is just overwhelmed. Why did you stay if it was so bad.   If he was hurting you why didn’t you call the police.  Why do you want to ruin his reputation” 

You’ll hear phrases like these often  my warrior sisters.  Don’t let it slow you down.  Don’t let anyone make excuses for your abuser. Do not let anyone minimize your trauma.  It doesn’t matter if you had marks, or witnesses, or police reports.  You know your truth. 

Find the words, and speak them boldly.  Throw away all the words given to you by society, by teachers, by policemen, by doctors.  Throw away the politically acceptable words you were taught;  throw away words like, ‘domestic abuse, domestic violence, anger issues, victim, survivor, intimate partner abuse, sexual coercion.”  Those words mean nothing, they do no justice to your story, your pain, your battle scars. 

We have to paint a picture that they can not look away from.  The truth is raw, and ugly, and graphic.  The picture should be too.  Let your words be as deadly as your abuser.  Let you truth stand before them as it is.  Don’t clean it up first. 

If your truth is bloody let the blood pool at their feet.  If your truth is full of fear and shame, show them your shame in its entirety.  If your truth is bathed in tears and cold sweats at 3 am then do not wipe them from your face.

Make them see the horror that you lived.  Make them see how fear can become FEAR, and slither through your heart like ice and fire.  How FEAR can become a disease, chronic and fatal. 

Find your own words sisters.  Not just for you, but for our sisters still trapped in the nightmare.  The more we speak up, the more we educate others;  The easier their path will be.

One last thought. The words sexual coercion are a joke. A pretty way to say RAPE. And sisters, there is nothing pretty about rape.

Undone Dishes, POWs, and Healing Spaces.

This is part 1; part 2 will follow soonish.

When I left my abuser for the last time; there was a place for me to go and heal. 

An outreach program put me in a “battered woman’s”  home.  It was God sent.  There was enough space for all my children, and enough quiet and freedom to start healing.

I had time to focus on things besides survival.  All our basic needs were met.  I could focus on my boys, for the first time in years.  I could spend time just loving them again.  I had time  to soothe their nightmares and learn their dreams.

There was time to pray and sleep; I prayed continously. I Slept. So. Much.  Sleep deprivation was my abuser’s favourite torture. Sleep became delicious, decadent.

I didn’t have to talk to strange men to find work or a home.  I didn’t have to explain (or hide) that I was a refuge of war.  I could just be a girl for a minute, instead of the battle scarred warrior I am.

Here there were no voices; sudden and strange,  to make me jump.  No one requested, or demanded, or judged

I could leave the dishes for days, and I did.  I could watch absurd comedies with my boys, and I did.  I could build my barricades and pace the hallways double checking windows, and I did. Here, there was no one watching me break down, crumpling to the floor in grief and relief.

Without that place, without that opportunity I would’ve went back. I had already gone back 7 times.  This place made all the difference.

And now, there is no such place.  It was the last of it’s kind in this area, and it’s gone.  It is now one of four recovery houses for women and their children. 

Don’t get me wrong, women recovering from addiction deserve help, they deserve applause.  

They are our sisters. Often, abuse and addiction are just different faces of the same demon.  And yes, they will make room for us as well, and yes we are grateful.

Yet.  It isn’t the same.  It isn’t what we need.  They are packed.

Instead of one family of four, it is many families.  Instead of seperate bedrooms and bathrooms for each person, it is a whole family in a bedroom. 

I  would’ve gone back to my abuser.  Not out of pride.  Not because I didn’t love these sisters of ours.  Not because I was too good for their rules and programs.  No, because I still wasn’t strong enough.  I wasn’t ready to face the world. I didn’t yet know that I was worthy.  And I couldn’t yet hear anyone telling me different over the sound of my wounds screaming.

Today, I would have been a causality of this war, instead of a victorious warrior.  I would be dead instead of alive.  Dead in spirit or dead in body.

The goals there are accountability and structure. Every minute of the day is spent in chores, service, meetings, church.  They have to sign in and out, request passes. Explain their needs and reasons. 

It is loud, busy.  Every corner you turn brings another shock.  A stranger, an argument.  It’s a breeding ground for panic attacks.

This is great when you’re recovering from an addiction.  When having too much time to think and too much freedom to run will lead to a relapse. However, this is not how a prisoner of war heals

Addiction and abuse may be different faces of the same demon.  But the disease this demon brings is not the same. The treatment it needs is not the same. 

I rejoice that our sisters in addiction have a place for treatment and healing. 

But I am despair that our warrior sisters living in abuse do not.   Not here, not anymore.

For now, our domestic violence outreach will urge you to stay with family, or friends whilst you wait for emergency housing.  There is no time for healing. That is just a new battlefield.  One that will need fought, but all warriors need sleep.

Or they will drive you to women’s shelter an hour away, if the shelter has room.   I’m not sure what that looks like yet. However, I do know it means new schools for children, strange faces every where you go.  I know that in addition to being weary, to being literally shell shocked, they will now be homesick.  A stranger in a new land. Piling stressors on top of stressors.  How many of our sisters would just say no and go home?

While these options are better than having no options, our refugees need, deserve better.  I want more for all our sisters of war.  Our Father wants more for His daughters. They are weary from war and they have a battle story to tell heal.

I was the last refugee they housed, that bridge fell behind me. I believe our Father has put a mission on my heart to rebuild.  I can not leave any of our sisters behind.

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. 
Proverbs 31:8
“You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not wrong him."           Deuteronomy 23:15-16

I want to add a few words about my choice of words. My words are not hyperbole, they are not dramatizations, they are factual.  The words 'Domestic Violence Victim or Survivor' let people pretend it was just a small disagreement or a quick tussle in a door way.  Those words does no justice to the torture and trauma we have faced.  Those are words that make it seem like our war is a lie. Make no mistake: A woman who is being abused by a romantic partner is a prisoner of war.  Her home and her life is a battlefield.  Once she sets her mind to leaving, before she even takes the first step, she is a warrior.  All warriors need an army.  Agape's Agmen. 

Apple Snapples, Paranoid Schizophrenia, Fresh Air Bed

Every Sunday morning we would pile into a van and go to church. Every Sunday morning we would walk in shiny and sunny. We were role models for younger couples. At one time, Pastor wanted us to teach a marriage class. I declined knowing even I couldn’t take the lie that far.

And every Sunday after church he would drop us off at home. This Sunday I was tasked with trying to pick a drink that wouldn’t give him fits. Everything gave that man fits. Talking when he was trying to think would give him fits.

I bought him a Snapple, made it home without a single fit thrown, and relieved, watched him drive away.

I started cooking lunch and was enjoying my children without the weight of hate in the house. For a minute, life was good. Until my son said words that put terror in my heart. Everytime I heard them. Cold sweat, heart racing, wide eyed, twitching terror.

‘Mom, your phone is ringing’

The following is my best effort at an accurate recall of the conversation that ensued. He will be in Bold and I will be in Italics.

I’ve been calling and calling you. I’m sorry, I didn’t hear the phone. That’s crazy since you always have your phone right next to you. I’m sorry. You doing okay?

I’m going to ask you a question and I will know if you’re lying, so don’t lie. Why did you buy me a snapple? What was the goal in that?

(Sisters, the question dumbfounded me. The goal in buying a drink? And I already knew that any answer I gave, he’d considered sarcastic and disrespectful.)

Because you were thirsty and I thought you’d like it and not be thirsty anymore. (I mean, seriously, how is someone suppose to answer that. I came close to just hanging up and leaving to avoid answering) Always the smart a** aren’t you?

………………………………

The snapple you gave me, it’s in a glass bottle.…. It didn’t fit in the cup holder. Oh, I’m sor It fell and busted and I sliced my hand open trying to pick it up. Oh no, that’s I’m driving around trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, I’m trying to convince myself that you’re just f*ck*ng stupid and didn’t do it on purpose. Well I don’t think No, we know you don’t think. Which is it Jenny, are you a f*ch*ng dumb c*nt or did you cut my hand on purpose? At this point he is screaming. Now I have to get stitches and you’re going to find a way to pay the f*ck*ng bill dumb wh*re

The three things I learned when he came home in the middle of the night:

He didn’t need stitches, it was barely a scratch.

The man is completely insane.

If you ever find yourself locked out of your home at 2 am with your kids locked inside, and you don’t have your phone or car keys… you can make a pretty decent bed using two patio chairs pushed together under your son’s bedroom window.

Dread, Fear, and a (tiny) bit of Hope

This week has been eventful. Not at all the peaceful existence that we have gotten use to.   God gave us peace and I’ve worked hard to keep it. 

But there are some people who are never at peace.  The chaos of their lives infect everyone it touches.  It has my stomach in knots; I am physically ill from potential tragedies that may not happen.

I tell myself I have forgiven him, but in reality I have not.  Hatred for him fills my heart with putrid pus.  He’s a sickeness I can’t quite shake. Everytime I forgive him (or come close) he pushes me back down, and the hatred blooms red again.  He is a mountain that only God can move.

These are the things that have happened.

Thing 1: Someone reported him to DCS for: improper living conditions, aggressive behavior to the children, leaving them with people who are in active addiction, and not having them properly restrained in his vehicle. He is completely convinced it was me.

I am fearful of the punishment he is planning for me. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t do it; he has decided that I am guilty. That man’s core belief is two eyes for an eye. It feels like I never left. I can barely swallow for the lump of fear in my throat.

Thing 2: He decided today that he wanted our (my) daughter to attend preschool in a town 30 minutes away. Completely out of no where. No no no. Is this the punishment for someone calling DCS?

Here’s the thing. I don’t work on the days I have her… the exact same days she’d be at school. Instead I work 12 hour shifts on weekends. Here’s the other thing. I’m not even sending my older sons to school this semester, because I believe it’s not safe.

We argue for a while but I won’t budge even though I’m shaking. He tries to bully me by saying, ‘the judge will make you’. Thank you Jesus for giving me the wisdom to have an attorney. Tired of pretending to be brave and confident I tell him that from this point forward to contact my attorney.

Calling his bluff and standing my ground will surely reap more punishments.

In the back of the mind I know that he has the means and meanness to run off with her. That is my waking nightmare.

I meet with said attorney tomorrow. As an added bonus, I get to experience the additional dread of meeting with DCS investigator.

“I personally don’t have any concerns, but I need to meet you and see if you have any concerns concerning your daughter’s care when she’s with her father. ” Direct quote from Super Sweet, Silly, Snake Charmed, Well Meaning DCS Worker.

This immediately let loose a whole herd of panic rats in my brain. If I tell the truth she won’t believe me, she’ll be spiteful and take my kids, she’ll tell him I told. If I lie she’ll believe me, and nothing will change, and my daughter will suffer. And it will be all my fault.

This is where our Bible comes in. Studying the word gives us power over our thoughts. We can replace each gnawing fear with a promise from our God. It works. It helps. I promise.

Sisters, I am afraid. Although, I know that our Saviour has overcome all fears and has already gone in front of me and won victory for me. I’ll be afraid every minute of this little battle, but I will also be bold and use the weapons Father has given me.

John 16:32 Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

I want to reach out now, to anyone who reads this. Please pray for me. Pray that I have the wisdom to choose my words with grace, pray that I remain bold and brave in the face of my enemies. Pray the blood of Jesus in protection over my children. Pray that God gives these goverment officials discernment and that they will see the truth.

Escape Plans, Humility, and Naps.

John 11:33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 35 Jesus wept.

If you are alone and hurting and wondering why God isn’t saving you; I can testify to the fact that He desires nothing more than your salvation and freedom. He weeps with you.

If you are living in a house of horrors, if you’re crying in the dark, if you jump everytime a door slams, if you’re trapped, if you’re living in fear; it is time for an escape plan.

I escaped 8 times, so this will be an accumulation of knowledge pulled from my own experiences.

The first two things you need to do is spend time in prayer and praise.  Pray for guidance.  Praise Him because He is who He is, no matter any circumstances.  Then gather the necessary supplies.

  • The most useful tool to have is your Bible, you will use this for guidance, comfort, wisdom. It is your deadliest weapon and will teach you how to armour up and be victorious in battle. (Do not be deceived, this will be a war, and you will win)
  • Your support system.  This can be family, an estranged friend, the warriors at a domestic violence outreach, CPS, or even a kind semi-stranger.  You will need a person.  That you can trust. 
  • Essentials.  Your escape bag can be a trash bag.  It just needs to hold stuff.  You will need your ID, social security cards, and birth certificates. Do not leave them in your wallet and assume that you can grab them on your way out.  If anyone takes a daily prescription include a week’s worth of doses.  A pair of shoes for each person and any money you can find, even if it’s only 3 dollars in change.
  • A secret stash spot. Where your stash spot is will depend on your situation.  Ideas could include;  your work locker, the back of a friend’s linen closet, under the porch of a nearby empty house, a post office box.  Anywhere you can easily access that he won’t find.  This is where you will store your essentials.
  • Separation from your plan.  Work on it, think on it only when productive, and then put it away in the back of your mind. Keep it a secret from yourself.  This will keep you from slipping up, or becoming overly anxious. 
  • Make a mental list of your Resources
  • Leave.  Pick a time that is safe,  when you know you will have enough time.  An abused woman knows her partner better than any person ever knew anyone.  I do not exaggerate when I tell you that your life is in the most danger while leaving, and for first few days after. You’re at risk of death if you stay also.  So leave. Quietly and boldly.
  • Stay gone.  Cut all contact for as long as possible.  I strongly suggest 30 days.  Do not call or go back to get forgotten things. Turn off your phone’s location services, do not use social media, block his number, leave messages unopened and do not let him know where you are.  You are still susceptible to his charm during this time. The serotonin in your brain will lie to you and tell you you need him. This is one of the reasons you need to know how to armour up.
  • Prepare for battle.  In the days after leaving you should start gearing up spiritually, your victory plan is in the bible.  Study it, pray without ceasing, and allow yourself to rest.  Sisters, you have been exhausted for so long that you can no longer tell the difference between pain and pleasure.  Rest and be restored.
  • Live with grace.  You have been in the darkest pit, traveled through the deepest valley, and walked out of the fire.  Now is the time to live, not survive, thrive.  Joyously, gloriously, freely.
James 4:6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.

I want to leave you with one more lesson; and I learned this in very difficult way.  Yes, having faith is essential, but with faith you must have work.  You can not hide under the covers and count on your faith to feed or free you.  Instead you use that faith to leap into the unknown.  Have faith that your efforts will see fruit; you have to do the work.

James 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”Show me your faith without deeds,and I will show you my faith by my deeds
Even Moses, a man of incredible faith had to put a little work in.
Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.

Sisters, I am praying for you.  All of us who made it out the other side are praying for you.  There is a victorious and joyous life waiting for you.

Babies, Cages, and Sweaters.

The cages that they put us in may have different names; pretty names, ugly names, godly names, logical names.  It’s all the same. A cage is a cage, a prisoner is a prisoner. 

My cages came in the form of no finances, isolation from family and friends, owning nothing, being no one, and lastly… step babies.  Oh, how those beautiful boys wiggled into my heart and dug right in. 

(It is painstaking, trying to pull some of these words from my heart.  They’re thorns buried under skin,  painfully abscessed.)

We were still newly “married” when we found out she was pregnant.  Some lost girl he was sleeping with while we were dating.   Twins.  He swore up and down they weren’t his. She lived on the streets, bumming floor space for a pallet in dope house after dope house.  Painfully skinny and strung out.  He took no responsibility.

This man who claimed to be a righteous christian, laid with this lost girl and threw her away like trash.  He left her to wander in the wilderness alone, while his sons grew inside of her.

I can be a crazy lady, and this situation was a crazy lady time.  It was heartbreaking.  After praying, I begged, after begging enough, he said yes.  I picked her up (her cheeks were hollow, her belly beautifully huge) and brought her home.  I fed her, I drove her to doctor’s appointments, my church ladies gave her a huge baby shower.  I came to love her.

The whole time he is swearing;  they’re not mine, I can’t have kids, just watch those babies are black.

A month before she went into labor, I found out I was pregnant too. 

I had actually moved out a week before, after he had pushed me out of his truck into a ditch and then came back and pulled me back in by my hair.  I had blood caked in my hair, blood dried to a crust on the back of my neck, a gash in my head.  It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.  The screaming, being physically assaulted, being left in a ditch, trying to limp home in the dark, dizzy and nauseous,  his brakes squealing and headlights blinding me as he came came back.  When I found out I was pregnant, I  disconnected from myself and walked back into my cage. 

I drove her to the hospital when her water broke, I called him and told him to hurry,  not to miss it.  He missed it, he was late.  Which of course, was my fault. 

They were beautiful little miracles.  And they were his.  He sent me home, he didn’t want me there, forbade it.  I had fallen in love with those boys months before they were born, and being cut out felt like rats scurrying in my stomach.

The night after the DNA test came back (or the next, it all blurs) was the only time he hit me with a closed fist.  Blinding pain, to be hit like a man.  Why? Frustration at her for not letting him name both of the twins.

I left again, I went back again.  I left 8 times before I stopped going back.  The scars I gave my own children in the process….. I’ll pull those thorns out one day,  Right now I can’t look at the memories long enough to give you those words.

By the time my daughter came, I had the twins by myself day and night.  Coming home with her, already exhausted, I now had 3 infants to care for.  Not one of them slept for more than 3 hours at a time, which meant my longest span of sleep would be 2 hours, usually one.  For a year.

I would fall asleep terrified that I wouldn’t hear them cry and he would be woken.  I feared they would be punished for waking him up.  Tiny fragile things, my responsibility.  My responsibility,  my love, my cage.

I started sleeping with them.  Twins laid perpendicular on one side of me, their tiny feet pushed against me.  My daughter on the other side, her breath a whisper on my cheek.  To my surprise he approved of this, bragging about it to others. 

Lack of sleep; caring for 3 infants, having my own sons to protect, keeping a house clean and running, every where I went I had three car seats, three infants.  The twins were almost 5 weeks early, baby girl was a week late.  All three have always been the same size.  Triplets.

I saw life through foggy and cracked glasses, nothing was quite real. The disconnect from myself, and my children, and the world grew by miles.  Nothing was real.

The abuse became a whisper, physical punishment was rare that first year of the babies’ lives.  He didn’t need to, I was already being beat down by the weight on my shoulders. 

Rare, but not gone.  He went through a phase where he insisted that I breastfeed the twins as well as my daughter.  I couldn’t do it, it felt so wrong.  I let my milk dry out instead.  I fought that battle silently and stubbornly.   He was anything but silent, and that battle started the hair-pulling- face-smacking-while-driving-punishments I told you about before.

One day he was going to whip my youngest son, and when I came between them and stopped him, he called me into the bedroom.  He took a baby out of my arms and laid it on the bed, close enough to the edge to give me a panic. 

Being choked, having someone’s hands around your neck, watching the world grow black as your body fights for air; it is an ugly and terrifying thing.  Your body seizes from lack of oxygen.  Flight or fight kicks in but you can do neither, and your brain goes into complete panic screaming that you’re going to die, your going to die right now. 

And then you wake up, all sense of time and space gone.  Your dizzy, confused, your neck a ring of fire, your face covered in your own spit.  You can’t hear over the pounding of blood racing back to your brain.  And everything around you looks like a movie with the brightness turned up way too high.   

I remember this instance so vividly because when I regained consciousness he was standing over me messing with my sweater.   He apologized repeatedly for tearing it and wanted to replace it.  He almost killed me and he was worried I’d be mad over a ripped sweater.  The absurdity of it struck a cold fear in my heart, the irony made me laugh out loud.  My laughing made him grin that grin and he gave me a peck and walked away humming.

He took my love for his children, my sense of responsibility and duty, and he built a cage.  When they turned 6 weeks old, he came home with them and laid them in my arms. I didn’t want them, I didn’t. But I loved them anyways.  Months later he showed me the paper work giving him full custody and I heard the door slam and the lock click. 

He still tries to use those innocent children to hurt and control me.  It took 11 months for me to see that it was hurting them as well.  He’d give them to me, and then take them away. If I was compliant I could have them, if I said no he’d rip them from my arms again.  They’d scream for me, scream for mommy as he left with them, and he’d scream back… she’s not your mommy. 

I’m still establishing boundaries. I only keep the twins for a few hours, two days a week.  No overnights.  I pray that their relationship with their mother will be restored and I advocate for her parental rights.  I pray for their safety and I plead the blood over them. They need a mother, and as much as I love them, that mother is not me. 

I have four children that God gave me authority over, four children that have been neglected and traumatized because of my choices and my weakness.  Four children that need me.  Not six.   It took me 16 months to be able to say that.  I have four children, I do not have six children.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends

Sisters, if you trapped, abused, scared.. reach out. There are people waiting to help you. Jesus is right there, weeping, arms open waiting for you. Sisters, do not fear;

thehotline.org

Fear, Prayers, and Lawyers

I am still so very afraid of my ex-abuser. Full fledged fear. Heart pounding, sick to my stomach, fear. Can’t breathe, dizzy, jumping and twitching fear.

And as I am laying in bed, doing research and figuring out how to lessen his time with my daughter, I feel physically ill. With fear. I’m calling my lawyer in the morning, it’s time. But the whole thing is making me sick. With fear.

I can’t ignore her crying for me when she leaves, the iron grip of her little arms around my neck, the pleading, mommy no I stay I stay with mommy. It breaks me.

And her fear outweighs my own. Her life is more important to me than anything else I could have. Even this fragile peace.

So pray for me, for strength; and pray for my sweet daughter. Cover her in the blood because it’s Thursday and she’s been gone for 13 hours.

And if you have any advice or tips… please share.

Sin, Seperation, and Kleptomania

Can we get deep for a minute? Can we reach beyond the bruises and trauma and blood trickling behind our eyes? 

Systematic abuse cause damage deep in our spirit.  We begin to compromise our boundaries, our morals, our very selves, to avoid more punishment.  We try to pay for peace;  the cost, pieces of our souls.

We are bullied into sin, sins wrapped in the pretty package of wifely submission.  There were lies to cover his crimes, schemes to advance his status,  but mostly they were committed in his bed.  The sexual perversion,  sodomy, porn, rape.  Trying to please him, chopping my true self to little bloody pieces.

Sin causes separation from Our Father,  and separation leads to more sin.  I swam in it, drowning. I was so lost in the wilderness, I couldn’t see a way out. I couldn’t see Our Father waiting for me. His arms open wide the whole time.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

I started using; pills and pills and more pills. He had taken my antidepressants away; calling it sorcery, and I felt justified in my choice of drug use.

Opiates, and ADHD medicines were my favorites. A pill to take the pain away, a pill to get the dishes done, a pill to silence my demons, a pill to mimic long last joy. Pills made everything okay. Pills made life great.

I lived in a dark cycle. My mind a hallway turned in on itself, bloodstains on the wall, demons looking out from dirty, cracked mirrors. Sounds of screaming and beatings and silent sobs chasing me through blind curves.

Financial abuse is it’s own thing, and it causes it’s own damage. Not allowed to work, not allowed any access to his money, not allowed to have money for my sons’ needs; I resorted to begging, conning, and stealing. Shoplifting is just as addictive as drugs. It returns a sense of control in a chaotic world, it provides a thrill, a smile, another pebble filling the void.

Stopping the pills was an easy feat; having enough sleep, enough rest, family and friends, and medical care again made the need for illegal drug use disappear.

Shoplifting, I still struggle with. I have had $3,000 in savings and will steal a $5 bottle of soap. Damaging myself, continuing the cycle of shame. I sometimes think the shame is as addictive as anything else.

It’s comfortable, my shame.

That hallway of horrors; it’s still there, I can feel the gnawing need just below the surface, the scars under strong skin. There’s a blackness there that wasn’t before, a puddle of old putrid blood drying in the recess of my mind. It looks a little like insanity.

All I can do is let the light in; over and over. Enough sunlight has a bleaching effect. If you don’t believe me lay a folded tshirt in the sun for a few weeks.

Recovery is a process; healing a work of art, a thing of beauty still in process.

If you’re being abused, reach out, they’re ready to help you.

Thehotline.org

Blood Stains of Shame, Washed Away, The Blood of Jesus

I am obsessed with blood.  I see blood everywhere I look.  My memories are drenched with it.

I see it smeared on the back of my hand. Wiped from my nose, my cheek.  It is startling, shocking.  I stare at it for ages, it offends me, that I would bleed for him.

I taste it in my mouth. Sharp, hot.  A cracked lip, a loose tooth.  It’s all the same.  It tastes of shame, my blood flooding my mouth, shame and sorrow.

I see it running down my legs, tiny rivers on the bathroom floor, another baby gone.  A casualty of war.  He calls me a murderer as I find keys, and clothes, he won’t drive a murderer to the hospital.

I can hear it my ears, thundering, drowning out his angry yells, eagerly racing through my head as I regain consciousness; a ring of fire, to replace his hands, around my neck.

It’s everywhere.  A tiny smear on a door jamb, droplets on pillowcases, stained sweaters in the trash. I find a drop on the sliding glass doors, mocking me.  On a wall on the splinters of a me sized dent.  Towels bleached thin, the edges still crimson.

A scavenger hunt of brutality.

I see it behind my eyes, like ocean waves. Of anger, of hunger, of you don’t get to hurt me anymore.

Awashed in it, renewed and healed in it, Jesus’ blood, glorious, saving blood.  I plead the blood, I cover my daughter in the blood.  The blood of our saviour.  The blood that set me free.

My daughter is with him tonight, tomorrow night. How long before he turns on her, before he seeks to punish and break her perfect spirit.  How do I protect her?  How do I save her?  I can’t.

The blood of Jesus has to. 

But until she’s home safe, I do not sleep.  I pray instead, I pray there is no more blood that isn’t Jesus’.

 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

P.S. If you are reading this, please keep my daughter in your prayers, pray for her protection physically and spiritually. Thank you

C.P.S. Warriors, Scary Tasks, and Barricades

Towards the end of my fake marriage with my false husband; God sent a warrior to clear a path for me.

If not for her, I would be dead, or worse, still living that nightmare. 

You see the abuse, the atmosphere in the house.. my own depression and constant anxiety had gotten so bad that Child Protective Services was called. The accusation;  educational neglect.

This woman, God sent, a fire in her eyes, persistent and sharp. This woman would not go away. I wanted so badly for her to just go.  Her very existence put mine in danger.  I literally trembled in fear; knowing I’d say the wrong thing, or the right thing in the wrong way. 

He hated her, everytime she knocked or rang, everytime she crossed his mind… Rage.  Rage. I sincerely thought he’d kill me just to be rid of her.  He would not let me speak to her, forbade it.

I tried to compromise, I tried to make peace, but she would not go, he would not stop blaming me.  I knew my punishment was coming, I could smell it in the air like a storm blowing in.  And I knew she would take my babies,  any day, any second.

She stared me straight in the face, that fire flaming, and she said…  I know there is abuse.  And I lied,  I smiled, I made up a whole crazy lady dance full of lies and smiles. And she said, OK, but you’re being abused. 

She could see through my unmarked skin, see the wounds, the bruises just under the surface.  She saw the truth under our carefully woven disguise. 

He knew she was watching, waiting, suspecting.  So he didn’t hit me, didn’t choke me, didn’t drag me through the house by my hair.  Instead he brought the cops to arrest me. Punishment. Consequences.  Control.  Protecting his reputation. 

I was homeless.  No pennies, No ID, no car, borrowed shoes.  A disconnected phone. I couldn’t stay with friends or family. I loved them too much. His punishments were mine to bear, not theirs.

(A few weeks later my best friend’s house burned to the ground during church)

I prayed, I paced, I prayed. And then I called her.  “I’ve left, I have nothing, I don’t know what to do.” And with a throat full of shame, I admitted everything

  I turned to that fiery woman who wrecked my whole life, because she may have been the only one who would believe me. 

I sat in a hotel room, paid for by my oldest boy, and I called her, and then I fell into Our Father’s arms and waited.

She sent an army of women.

Together they will be like warriors in battle trampling their enemy into the mud of the streets. They will fight because the LORD is with them, and they will put the enemy horsemen to shame.

She sent an army of warrior women with soft words and fiery eyes.  Healing women.  Women that had been through wars, and came out victorious. Women who recognized my scars and had a plan.

A plan.  A plan full of scary tasks.

I met my “personal assistant” first. The kind of red hair that only God can give you, patient and kind,  and determined.  I loved her immediately, I always will. She came to my hotel room and I sat at a desk, chain smoking, being as forth coming as possible. 

Her words were like medicine, turning every negative into a positive, every challenge into a victory. She was the first person to speak life over me.  And it made all the difference.

She took me to another lady; loud and full of laughter, straight forward and a little scary.  This lady had the keys to my sanctuary. Shelter.  Homeless shelter.  Domestic Violence Survivors’ shelter.  With room for my children. 

Shelter.  Cameras on the doors and hallways,  police patrolling, a secret location,  no address anywhere.  Shelter from the storm, safety from the danger, rest for the weary.  Shelter, the word was bliss.

(None of that stopped me from using furniture and dishes to build barricades in front of every door; an impulse I would indulge for 14 long months. I couldn’t sleep unless there were dressers and chairs and pans that would fall loudly when pushed)

Half way into Day 2… and I am already blessed beyond my wildest dreams.

And then there was my counselor from our local abused women outreach type program.  Young, and fresh, innocent, and almost foolishly hopeful.  A dark haired, dark eyed beauty.  She held my hand through the hardest parts.  And that was more than enough.

(There was also my best friend then, and now, she gave me hand up after hand up.   She’ll have her own chapter soon, so will my parents. So will my sons.)

They took me by the hand to the court house, and when my hand shook from fear, and my eyes blinded with tears; they took the pen and papers from me.  And then translated my stutters and heaves, and filled out every blank.  I had a restraining order, I had a request for emergency custody of my baby. 

The paperwork filed, there was no turning back. I broke the number one rule. He would kill me if I ever went back. My fate was sealed.

These women. These warrior women. They helped me fight for my child. They talked churches and trustees into paying my bills.  They brought us food.  They convinced an apartment complex (too nice for my credit, too expensive for my budget) to accept me.  They shoved me into the job I still have today.  They paid for counseling.

I wasn’t alone, and they never let me become overwhelmed.  I wasn’t alone, and I wasn’t failing. Every day, a hundred tiny tip toed steps led me to success.

My army.  I haven’t needed them in quite a while, and they’ve moved on to new battles.  But I miss them.  And I still thank God for them.

If you being abused, you are not alone, and help is waiting.

https://www.thehotline.org/

If you are being abused and there are children in the home; they are also being abused. No matter how quiet you are, no matter how big your fake smiles, no matter if you never let him hit the kids. Your abuse is their abuse, and your trauma is their trauma. Please reach out to your local DCS or CPS office. Do not be afraid of them, they want to help, they are trained, experienced, and have resources you need.