"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. Confused, 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.
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.1