One of our most popular sections from Megan’s book, Give Her Wings: Help and Healing After Abuse. Be edified and blessed.
The first time my ex husband physically hurt me, I felt relief.
Now, I could maybe tell someone that I had suffered PHYSICAL abuse and, often, people are more affected by physical abuse than emotional, spiritual, mental or sexual abuse. One woman said, “I knew he was difficult to live with but I had NO IDEA he was hurting you PHYSICALLY.” It was like I now had permission to leave — because there were visible bruises. I have heard many women who left horrid, hell-like marriages, having survived heinous acts of manipulation and mental suffering say this: “I wish he had pushed me down the stairs.” A friend, in fact, recently wrote a blog about this very thing. If there was “evidence” . . . if her ex had put her in the hospital . . . maybe people would not make her the bad guy for finally having the courage to run away from the darkness that was her marriage.
In CS Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, no one believes Lucy when she tells them she has found an entire new country through the back of the wardrobe. Perplexed, the other 3 children go to the professor about Lucy. After all, Lucy has always been honest. She has never displayed acts of manipulation or craziness. The children cannot understand why Lucy will not recant. They are stunned when the Professor asks them, “How do you know that your sister’s story is not true?” He then explains that there are only three logical possibilities: either Lucy is lying, she has gone mad, or she is telling the truth. Lucy was never a liar nor had she gone mad. Not only that, but the Professor asks them which one of the two children (Edmund or Lucy) was most likely to tell the truth. Lucy is more likely to tell the truth. A new perspective had developed.
This perspective is what is sadly missing in the lives of so many people surrounding abused women. I am at a loss as to why a perfectly sane, honest woman is allofasudden a liar when it comes to the abuse she is suffering at the hands of her husband — behind closed doors — LISTEN — where no one else lives. I see this all the time now. A woman is respected, honored, looked up to by so many people in the church. . . until she admits to someone that her personal home life is a living hell. NOW, she is doubted, questioned and treated like she is a squeaky, high-pitched crazy woman who is crying wolf. Where did this come from?!
Friends . . . most of the women I know who have bravely left a man who was killing them on the inside emotionally and mentally are intelligent and loving human beings. Look at their track record. Look at their character. These women have had vibrant, living and active relationships with Christ for as long as you have known them. Why would you doubt them now, when they need you the most? Yes, their lives have not been easy and their pasts may be marked by strange behavior, covering and hidden pain . . . but that RIGHT THERE should be the indication that something was very wrong in their private lives and, not only that, that they are dealing with it alone. She was trying to honor her husband all those years; trying to respect him. She might have been threatened by him. Maybe he questioned her every time she got home (“Who did you talk to?” “What did you tell them?!”). She had a reason for not telling you earlier.
If a woman seems to suddenly leave a spouse, has the courage to admit what was going on, or runs for safety, don’t take it upon yourself to decide to judge her. You did not walk in her shoes; you weren’t there. You have no right to make any decisions about what her life was like. Look at who she has been all this time. Did she walk with the Lord? Was she trying to follow Him? Does she love her children? Has she loved YOU? Believe her. I would much rather err on the side of loving belief of a sister than make the unconscionable decision to shun or abandon her in her darkest hour.
With Respect, Megan
Megan Cox is a Pastoral Counselor and Executive Director of Give Her Wings. She holds an MAR and is certified in crisis response with the AACC.