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My Abusive "Christian" Marriage

My Abusive "Christian" Marriage

I couldn't believe this was my reality. And I couldn't see a way out.
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"Did Daddy do that?" my daughter asked. Lying on the floor in the doorway of her room, I was stunned as I realized my daughter had just witnessed undeniable physical abuse. Tom's* anger had escalated into unrestrained rage, and he'd thrown me into our daughter's bedroom. Con-fused, I began to question my situation: Was I really experiencing domestic violence in my Christian home?

I'd denied the truth so long I was unable to recognize what was really happening. The abuse had started subtly and grown insidiously. My husband and I claimed to be Christians, so how could our marriage be abusive? Unable to give my four-year-old daughter any more excuses, I said, "Yes, Daddy did that." Then I locked us in her room and crawled in bed with her until she fell asleep. That night I resolved to stop the impact of domestic abuse in my daughter's life—a difficult decision that finally pointed me in the direction of healing.

Control Issues

It was inconceivable to me that I'd ever be in such circumstances. Born and raised in a loving pastor's family, I was steeped in conservative evangelical culture. As a "good girl," I got good grades, participated in extra-curricular school activities, and was a leader in the church youth group. I lived to please others, worked hard to offend no one, and had an internal drive to create a wonderful life. Though I had a relationship with Christ, I lived as if the good life depended on my good performance.

I met Tom at the Christian liberal arts college we both attended. He was handsome, intelligent, and interesting—always looking for adventure and fun. His father was a pastor, so we'd been raised in similar Christian cultures. Tom often discussed theology and doctrine, and he cared genuinely about people's salvation. Our wedding was a large, elaborate, God-centered event. I envisioned our marriage to be a shared life of service and impact for God's kingdom. I also believed that if I performed well, my marriage would go well and we'd have a good life together.

Though, looking back, I realized Tom was very self-centered while we were dating, I hadn't seen any red flags about the abuse that was to come. But early on I saw signs that life was going to be very different from what I'd envisioned. After returning from our honeymoon, Tom expected to use the entire closet in our bedroom while I used a closet in another room. He said this was because he'd moved into the apartment first. We went to the bank to put his name on my checks, but he didn't want my name on his. He monitored my purchases, even though I was working full-time and we weren't struggling financially. He was more concerned about controlling what I bought than how much money I spent. If I didn't comply with Tom's expectations or get his permission, he'd become angry and yell. For example, when I purchased drinking glasses and a shower curtain, he raged at me because he'd expected to choose those items himself. I'd eagerly anticipated freely organizing and decorating our home. Instead, I began to adjust to the practice of gaining approval for things such as hanging a picture on the wall.

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June 23, 2014  1:11am

This is my story too. And I too, prayed for God to fix my husband, fix my marriage, and fix me. I finally left after 10 years when I became terrified enough. Unfortunately though... I fell into a similar situation a year later. No one warns you about the after affects of mental abuse. Your judgement, self-esteem and sense of what is true/false are twisted and torn apart. PTSD is common after abuse. It literally changes your brain chemistry making it difficult to make logical decisions and to feel "normal" again. To anyone else in this situation, don't sit and wait to hear from God. If you are wondering if you should leave... LEAVE. God doesn't call you to silently endure this. You are NOT helping your husband by staying. Those words wouldn't have convinced me though, so I know everyone has to do it in their own timing. But please remember that the less this behavior is tolerated, the less of it there will be in the world. It's not ok. And please, be good to yourself.

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June 08, 2014  8:07am

This is so close to my own story that it could almost be mine. Thank you for sharing!

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June 02, 2014  9:05pm

On another note, truly Christian men (and women) who are living Christian lives, do not beat their spouse. Nor do they verbally demean them. If an individual is prone to this type of behavior and truly trying to lead a Christ-like life, he/she will seek therapy and make efforts to change. For those afraid to marry, I personally believe that the majority of marriages (Christian and non-Christian are happy). The 50% divorce statistic is simply not true. The rate is more like 30% for a college-educated couple that marries after age 30. And there are plenty of high school sweethearts who are still happily married. So, yes, there is hope. There are good, good men and good, good women out there. I know I cannot understand what the majority of you are going through and I don't want to sound condescending at all, but I hope you will realize that YOU are valuable and you have worth!! You were not created to be abused. You were created and deserve to be loved.

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