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Helping Abused Women

Once abused, now Joyce Holt is serving other desperate women
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Joyce Holt never expected to be a victim of abuse. Twice.

At age 22, she married a man who wasn't a Christian. Within weeks of the wedding, he began to tell her she was worthless and stupid. In the midst of arguments, he would punch her with her own fists.

Feeling she had nowhere to turn, she stayed with him. Until one night when he pulled out his pistol. Joyce watched in disbelief and panic as he toyed with the gun and eyed her.

Something snapped within her. "After he got out the gun," Joyce says, "I realized I'd done nothing that would have warranted him shooting me." She sought a divorce.

Eight years later, Joyce married again. She felt certain this man would treat her well since he was a Christian.

But just as before, within months this man began to verbally abuse her. After one fight, he said, "What are you going to do? Leave me? Everything you have is half mine now."

Mustering her courage, Joyce confronted him. To her relief, he recommitted his life to Christ and joined a men's accountability group. But not long after that, the abuse escalated. He choked her, trapped her in rooms, isolated her from family and friends, and berated and demeaned her. Joyce spiraled into depression.

"I constantly begged God to end my life," she admits.

Arise and Go

Without her husband's knowledge, she began to see a counselor, who told her that she was living in an abusive home. But it wasn't until a women's retreat that she finally saw clearly. "I realized that every year when I'd attend that women's retreat, I'd beg God to save my marriage. And every year I was at the same point of despair," she says. "God finally got through to me."

She prayed for direction and told God, "If you say go, I'll go." One day she heard God's words to Abraham as she read her morning devotional: "Arise and go hence." She called her attorney that morning.

But Joyce carried shame and humiliation with her. "I had two failed marriages, infant twins to care for, and I'd gained 90 pounds. I had difficulty just existing," she says.

In 2003 during a Sunday school class, the teacher asked everyone to partner up to discuss a passage about submission. Joyce turned to the woman next to her and said, "I'm not sure I'm the right person to partner with."

"I was thinking the same thing," the woman said.

"I'm getting a divorce," Joyce told her.

"Me too. But mine's not a normal divorce. I have a restraining order against my Christian husband."

"So do I," Joyce said.

Soon Joyce began to hear about other women in her church with similar stories. A choir member whose husband sexually abused her. A woman who endured a 20-year marriage to an alcoholic. Another whose story of abuse mirrored Joyce's.

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Displaying 1–3 of 11 comments

Ericka Faire

January 11, 2014  6:37pm

A book about hopelessness, abuse and triumph that I think will help women that have suffered rejection and abuse titled "I AM YOU-Achieving Against All Odds" by Author Paulina Long is a must read! If you're trying to process the abuse of your past you should Google and get this book!

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October 10, 2013  11:11pm

Hi Gail, I'm sorry for what you are going through. I understand and have been abused myself. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He is always there. By his grace and mercy and stripes u will be healed. Don't let the enemy tell u lies, you speak as if there is no hope. There is Hope in Jesus, he is your stand up and recovery. Remember to keep your head up because you are the daughter of a King, you are beautifully and wonderfully made, you are made unto his image, don't let the devil tell you otherwise, don't believe his lies and claim what is rightfully yours as the daughter of the King of all Kings Lord of all Lords Amen

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April 21, 2013  8:54pm

I am a survivor of abuse myself. I have scars to prove it that keep me from getting a job and in poverty ! Where is my help ? I have done counselling for years ! healing my insides is one thing..but what about my outward scars ? Who will help with them ? I have prayed...asked for help, donations anything to help me afford treatment for these scars. All I get is scammers. Seems no one really cares for those like myself who's life is destroyed by past abuse. My arms and between my eyes forever scared ! I have isolated myself from this world and have no friends anymore.I have stopped going to church also and will not as long as these scars are so visible on my arms. I want to be able to wear short sleeves in the summer months like other women ! I am tired of hiding in long sleeves in the summer heat. I forgot what it feels like to feel feminine and wear cloths that are pretty. I have lost myself behind these scars and cannot heal from the abuse being reminded by scars ! Where is my help?

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