Forgiving My Abuser
I was 16 years old when my boyfriend first hit me. That one hit turned into almost 12 years of physical, mental, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse.
People often asked me, “Why didn’t you just leave?” But it wasn’t that simple. I actually did try to leave, more times than I can count, but every time he would beat me into submission or manipulate me into thinking he would never do it again. The more it happened, the weaker I became. I had mastered the art of walking on eggshells.
Throughout the years, I struggled with depression, isolation, PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts.
I lost all my friends, grew distant from my family, and I was living a double life at work. No one knew I was getting abused almost every single day. I faked it till I made it, but deep down I was completely lost and broken inside.
Truthfully, I thought this was it…this was my life, and there was no way out.
How did I get here?
Did God forget about me?
I hated my life and hated it even more for my kids. Still, I never stopped praying and crying out to God because other than my two boys, He was really all I had.
In July 2011, God gave me the courage, strength, and opportunity to leave for good. And praise God, I took it! With the help of my church, family, and law enforcement, I was finally safe and free!
But my journey wasn't over yet….
See, although my circumstances had changed drastically, I wrestled with so much anger, suppressed memory, trauma, fear, bitterness, and pain that I couldn’t rid myself of my unforgiveness.
No matter what, I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I felt that forgiving my abuser would dismiss everything he’d ever done to me. And honestly, he had never even asked for it or showed true remorse, so it just made my reluctance stronger.
I prayed every day for God to help me let go and let forgiveness cultivate within me, and I realized that I needed to do more than just pray. I needed to take action.
It was the practice of motion before emotion. Meaning, even though I didn’t feel like working on it, I did it anyway out of obedience to God.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV
I meditated on scripture, went to support groups, started focusing on my health, was consistent in going to church, read self help books, had weekly counseling sessions, and started opening up to others about my journey so they could walk alongside me.
As my faith grew stronger, my heart started to change.
My reactions to triggers were recognizable, manageable, and started to lessen. I felt the layers strip away one by one. But it’s not magic. I believe that forgiveness is an ongoing process. It’s something I still work on till this day. It’s a daily choice to surrender and keep my eyes on Jesus.
“You can focus on the person who hurt you or the God who healed you.” - Christine Caine
I share my story of abuse with others to continue bringing light to the darkness and to bring glory to God. Forgiving my abuser uncomplicated my anger and helped me to see His beauty again. He can do that for you too.
If you’re in an abusive situation, you can call the National Domestic Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). All calls are free and confidential. Their advocates are available 24/7.
If you’re recovering from one, there is hope for you.