One of the most painful things I went through was not being believed. Not only was the pain amplified because no one else believed me, it was hard for me to believe what I was going through. It was and still is hard for me to believe that I went through abuse. That I was a victim of spousal abuse.
There was a day when my pastor asked me to come and visit him and tell him what was going on in my life about my illness and recovery. I went to his office, we sat down and I said to him. ********* the best thing you can do is sit down, shut up, don’t give me any advice right now…just listen!
So for the next 30 minutes I told him of my frustrations about the slowness of my recovery and then told him about the abusive nature of my marriage. …I then said to him. I have no choice…I have to leave. I cannot handle the abuse any more.
His reply was. You cannot leave your marriage, you have a covenant with your wife to stay with her and that she isn’t really being abusive, your just having a few issues that’s all. I then asked him, “What about her threats to stab me, what happens the day she carries that out”?
He laughed and said “Craig, I don’t think it is as bad as that. I know your wife. She won’t do that, you just have to love her more” He then to me, look I know finances are tight, how about the church pay for you to have marriage counselling.
I left his office more depleted then I did when I walked into it. I just told him how I was being verbally abused. How I had been punched and threatened. How I was dying inside. I had just told him that I was unable to take it any more and that for my health and safety I had to leave and he laughed at me.
We went to counselling and I tried to tell my story. My wife berated me on the way home each time we went saying how it wasn’t the counsellors business to know what she was doing and it was me who needed fixing.
I finally left and still went to the mens group for a few weeks, but was told by some of the guys that I was in the wrong for leaving my family. That I was in the wrong for separating and talking about divorce. This talk just heaped more condemnation and guilt and shame on me.
I had spent months agonising in prayer with God about this issue. Until the day came when my wife berated me while I was having a shower telling me that she held me in the utmost contempt, that I wasn’t a real man. That I wasn’t ill and never had been. That there was nothing wrong with me apart from my being mentally ill. The she knew me better than I did and was doing this for my own good.That I was only acting because I wanted some sympathy. …and that I had no right spending so much time in hospital instead of being out working providing for the family, and that God held me in contempt also because I wasn’t providing.
I curled up on the shower floor in a feotal position crying out to God, God I cannot stand this any more. Her words were like bullets, each one destroying me more. My wife then said…I expect this house to be clean and lawns mowed by the time I get back from work you useless piece of @$%#^%#
I stayed in the shower for about an hour. I felt unclean. I felt ripped apart. I sat on the back step and said “God, I have no choice. I have to divorce my wife.” and a few months later I separated and moved out because of more violence. .
A month later after moving out, I was invited to go back to church to watch the kids in a pageant. An elder of the church asked me why he hadn’t seen me lately and I told him I had separated and why I had done so. His reply to me was…”What did I do to deserve the abuse”?
I turned from him. I was totally ripped inside. I was numb. I somehow held back the tears and I walked out of the church never to return. At that time I had never felt so isolated. I felt like I was on my own. I had been told so often by my now ex wife that no one would ever believe me if I told them she was abusive. And now I was experiencing those words coming true. And I walked out of that church, never to return.
There were many more experiences to tell, where I wasn’t able to speak. Where I wasn’t able to share. And when I did get the courage to speak I wasn’t believed.
Fourteen months later, I still fear meeting people from that church. I fear hearing their words of condemnation. I still fear their disapproval. I have since joined another fellowship who have accepted me into their midst. They have offered me comfort and healing. I haven’t shared with many my experiences, apart from the pastor who has told me he is so sorry.
If your reading my post, the best thing you can do for someone if they tell you they have been abused is to listen to them, tell them you are sorry and that you believe them.