I’m seeing just about everyone I know and love hurting and struggling. It isn’t just lately…it’s been an ongoing observation. I believe in a truth that has been proved out time and again in my life and it’s something that you could never convince me to give up. I know that God makes a way when there seems to be no way. It’s never in our time, only in His, but when He tells a mountain to move, it obeys.
In the NIV, Isaiah 43:18-19 states:
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
God says Himself that He is making a way and we just need to be aware of it. I tell anyone who wants to listen that He’s done it for me over and over. When I needed a way and I was ready to see it, He opened it up to me.
I’ve felt God nudging me for quite a while now to share with you what He has done for my family. I always have reservations when speaking of my past because I would prefer to work at letting it go and finding a way to forget. However, I don’t think that’s what God wants. I believe He wants to use me to help others as and when I am ready. For now, this writing is what I can do.
I’ve shared very little about the abuse my children and I suffered for 16 years, and I’m going to continue, for now, to remain silent. I will, however, share with you the end of the abuse and how it came about that very last day…
Allow me to preface a bit so that anyone who has not experienced abuse can still hopefully understand what I’m saying. We had always lived with a man who was secretive, manipulating, controlling, and physically violent. Then several years before we escaped, he had surgery that caused him to depend on painkillers to the point that he was soon addicted to Vicodin. He went from abusive to mean as a snake. There was nothing I could ever do to please him or appease him. Everything that went wrong was my fault, according to him, and our children were learning from me how to be evil. Where do you go with that? How do you ever find a way to do anything good enough?
After grocery shopping, he would demand that we put the groceries away, then scream at us for rustling the plastic grocery bags while removing the items. Sometimes he would throw things, but always he would call us names and say we were making noise on purpose because we were ungrateful that he went shopping. I wanted so badly to make the situation right that I went to him and asked him how he wanted us to unpack so that we weren’t upsetting him. He told me that I was an idiot if I couldn’t figure it out.
For my entire marriage I had asked God to show me what I was doing wrong and help me fix it. I never got an answer. Right before we escaped I began praying that the LORD would reveal to my husband and me how we were failing each other and to open our eyes and help us change. God’s response was immediate. He began to show me what was really happening in that house and that He didn’t want it to continue.
The day of our escape began like any other. I woke the kids and we began our day. Our abuser was snapping and snarling from the moment he woke: nothing was right, I was evil, the kids were disobeying on purpose. He screamed and had temper tantrums like a two year old. I cannot honestly remember what we fought about, but he and I had a knock-down, drag-out fight. In private he was threatening to kill all of us, but around the children he was bemoaning how mistreated he was by me. He loved playing the victim. Eventually he trapped the kids in a bedroom and lectured them about how evil I was and how I was mentally disturbed and was trying to destroy the family. Jedi called his dad out on something he’d heard him say earlier and he told Jedi that he’d never said anything. That was the moment when my son realized what his father really was. I saw the truth register on his face as he came running to me and said. “Dad’s a LIAR!”
My spouse’s irrational behavior continued to heighten and I was extremely fearful that he was going to take up one of his guns and shoot us all, as he’d promised many times, yet in this irrational state he made the mistake that granted us our freedom. He never left home without taking a child with him because he knew I’d never leave without all the kids. That day, he left in a rage and didn’t take a child. As soon as he was gone, one of my children came to me and confided the abuse they had been suffering in secret. As soon as I heard what had been happening, a voice in my head said, “Get out.” I didn’t know what to do, so I called a friend and her husband told me to call the police and have them come get us. So I did. I warned them that he was armed and had the potential to be very dangerous, so they sent every cruiser they had available from the local police department, the sheriff’s office, and even the Metro Park officers.
I was close to being paralyzed by fear because I knew if he came home before the police arrived, we would die. My 19 year-old daughter knew it, also, and we prayed in earnest for God to save us. I cannot describe the fear and feeling of hopelessness when I saw him come home and the police had not arrived. I knew if he walked in the door and saw our 2 duffel bags packed with clothes that all would be lost. I was desperate…we were so close to escape! I watched him get out of his van and head towards the door, then change his path. He headed for the garage 100 feet behind our house and we all let out a sigh of relief. I sent my oldest son to watch out the back window and alert me if his father came back. I knew if he headed towards the house he would have a weapon with him.
Almost immediately one of the kids told me the police had arrived. I asked the officers to escort the children to the squad cars – I would not leave until everyone was safe in the cars. As I was exiting the house I saw my husband walking toward us and warned the officer escorting me. The officers allowed my spouse to speak to the kids and he tried to make them go back in the house. I refused to allow it and the children all said they wanted to go with me. In my husband’s hand the whole time was an ammo can that I knew held a handgun. I was still afraid we wouldn’t make it off the property alive.
We had been divided up into 2 cars because there were 8 of us. We were all in terror. As we pulled out of the driveway, the officer behind the wheel told me it was okay now – we were safe. I told him we were not in any way safe because my husband would not surrender his kids and he would follow us. A few minutes into the drive we had to stop for a train and I panicked because my husband was sitting in his van right behind us. The officers radioed for more help and shortly his van was surrounded by officers. When the train passed, we headed on our way to what the police perceived was ‘safety’ – but I knew better. I knew my spouse would never let up.
When we arrived at the station and had been escorted safely inside, the officers kindly helped us get settled and did their best to make us comfortable, but I kept telling them we wouldn’t be safe there. They assured me that there was no way my husband would know where we were because he had been detained until we were safely at the station. I felt defeated because they weren’t listening. I had taken away my husband’s possessions and he would stop at nothing to get them back. About ten minutes after our arrival an officer came back to the offices we were occupying and announced that my husband was there at the station. I watched their faces change as it began to sink in with them that I knew what I was talking about and this guy was not going to just give up.
Eventually he did leave, but not before he got his message across to me. He knew where I was, so he’d know where we went next. Somewhere during all of this my fear turned to anger and I was able to use the anger to shore myself up and decide that I was done with all the intimidation. I was a victim no longer. I knew I needed to be very careful, but I wasn’t going to give in or back down. There were seven children counting on me to do the right thing.
Several hours and many interviews later we were escorted from the station and handed off to the workers at a domestic violence shelter. I knew he was watching and I was cautious, but I refused to let fear reign again. At the shelter, the kids ate and we settled in to our room. As they slept I sat up all night and kept vigil. I wasn’t going to let anything happen to my kids now that we had escaped. Early the next morning I was called into the director’s office and she told me our safety had been compromised and we needed to be moved. I knew he’d been there.
With the dawn of that morning had come a realization that I hadn’t known before: God had made a way when there was no way. When I was ready to really perceive the truth, He paid the ransom and set eight captives free. The LORD set in motion the events that transpired that day. He made sure we were kept safe even when others didn’t understand how dangerous my spouse was. It was God doing what God does – loving his children and giving what they need at just the right moment. I knew He didn’t take us out of that situation just to leave us stranded. And you know what? I was right. The year following our escape was dangerous and we lived in hiding. But God was always there in the midst of us. He comforted, protected, gave, took away, and loved.
When you think there is no way, I’m here to tell you there is. It isn’t necessarily going to be the way you want it, but God always knows best. He will make a way for you when you surrender your situation to Him. This wasn’t the first time He did that for me, and it sure wasn’t the last. But this was the time when He saved eight lives and this was the time He told me I needed to share with you. I’ve learned to listen when He whispers in my ear. I know someone out there needed to hear these words today. So I’m glad I have them to share with you…