-A Story of Domestic Violence From an Elizabeth House Resident-
Unfortunately, domestic violence is no stranger to me. I have experienced the horror of domestic violence since I was 18 years of age. Today I am 38 years old and am a survivor of domestic violence, only by the grace of God! I married at the age of 18 to the father of my daughter, to whom I gave birth to at the age of 17, and today I have four wonderful children with him. My strongest desire was to have my children grow up with their father and not divorce. I longed to live my life with my husband and honor God, but things did not work out that way. I suffered on a daily basis the torment of every kind of domestic violence by my husband. I kept this abuse secret, even though family members often saw bruises on my body. Towards the end of my marriage, I finally began to open up to my family about the abuse I was enduring by my husband, hoping that someone would help me find my way out of this toxic relationship, but did not receive much support. My father encouraged me to remain in my marriage, regardless of the abuse because he did not believe in divorce, along with my oldest sister whose favorite quote was “you made your bed, you sleep in it” which really made me feel helpless. There was a point in my life, which death seemed like my only hope of freedom, even though I wanted to live more than anything. I just could not find my way out! If my own family would not help me, why would anyone else? Others would offer their opinions on why I should leave my husband, yet with no advice on how to or any offers of helping me. I felt so hopeless!
My husband and I separated nearly 3 years ago, under very bad circumstances, and left me without any financial assistance. I found a job after what felt like an endless search and began doing my very best to support my family on my own, which was extremely difficult for me because I had not worked very much throughout my life due to my husband sabotaging my jobs because he did not want me to work. Attempting to deal with the overwhelming negative emotional effects of and ended the marriage, I began a friendship with a man who promised to protect me and my family from my husband and any other person who tried to hurt me, which I wanted that love and protection more than anything. He promised to be the friend and support that my heart ached for and I longed desired. After a friendship and dating for about five months, we agreed that I would move in with him for a couple of months so I could attempt to save money for a new place to live. The house I was living in at the time had many health hazards, which was affecting my family’s health, and a landlord who would not address the issues, also the inability to afford all of my bills due to the minimum pay I was receiving. I was also having some personal issues with a neighbor who had been harassing me due to not wanting a relationship with him. I decided that moving would be the best option for me because I feared that my children were also in danger, especially when I was at work.
Some of my children and I moved in with my boyfriend at the time. My oldest decided they did not want to because they did not like my boyfriend and stayed with their aunt, who constantly was under the influence. My heart broke for them and I knew that I needed to find a place of our own as soon as possible, but did not know how to do so quickly enough. I, unfortunately, began to notice quick changes in my boyfriend’s behavior and attitude towards me. He began to put me down in front of my children, spoke very badly of me to them, became very controlling and jealous, would not allow me to have any friends, not associate with coworkers, not use my phone while together and wanted to know, in detail, what my phone conversations entailed of with my children. He began to emotionally and physically abuse me and even threaten my life indirectly, assuring me that he had no issues ending anyone’s life who betrays him.
I constantly prayed to God to help me find a way out of my situation. I recall the many days when I drove home from work, down the long secluded wooded path to his 5 acre house, crying my eyes out asking God to forgive all my sins and mistakes and pleading with him to make a way for me and my family because I could not figure it out on my own. I feared my life was going to end by this man’s hands and did not know what to do, because not even a domestic violence shelters would allow my 18-year-old daughter and her babies to go with me because she was considered an adult. God knew I could not just leave her abandoned on her own. God knows my heart and how it tore daily thinking of my family being separated and still needing my support. While living with my boyfriend, I had many hospital visits due to injuries endured by him in the month and a half time frame that I stayed with him. The last attack on me was very bad and caused permanent injuries to my body, which I still suffer from on a daily basis. After that attack, is when a memory of Sandra Preston, the founder of Elizabeth House, popped in my mind while praying, and I immediately called her. I had meet Sandra year before and we had spoken of my situation with my husband. To my surprise, she had just enough space for me and my children, which I know was God’s plan because she was always full to maximum capacity. This was the first time I felt a bit of hope for my life and family.
Sandra said that, due to my circumstances, I could enter the program the next day, which I did. Being that my boyfriend had put up cameras to watch me, I waited till he went to work, and my oldest daughter and I packed my van as quickly as possible to leave before he noticed and returned. I can’t say how living in Elizabeth House has begun to change my life. It has given me the opportunity to seek the Lord with a clear mind, sleep at night in peace and without fear of waking up to harm, the joy of knowing my children are loved, safe and free from harm, and helped me realized that I am a loved child of God and that it was never God’s will for me to live a life of abuse and that He has a good plan for my life and my families. I have learned that it was God’s will for me to enter Elizabeth House as a time of healing and hope of a future free of abuse. I was able to go through the fearful process of placing a restraining order on my ex, knowing that I had the encouragement, support, and safety of Elizabeth House and that I was protected and covered by the Holy Spirit. Although there are many times where I still struggle with the past and fear of future injury, I know that the Lord is in control and that I do not walk alone. I also have been blessed with a new family in God, whom I have grown to cherish and love, at Elizabeth’s house. It is the first time I desire to go home and have peace there. If it were not for God and Elizabeth House, I know that I would be dead right now. I know my ex would have taken my life. I know that I still have a ways to go for full healing, but I can't think of a better place to be in the process than Elizabeth House and attending Faith Assembly with all of the groups, counseling and inner healing sessions that they offer.
Story Written By- Anonymous