How Do You Know When it is Time to Leave Abuse? — Thoughts by Megan

Question for Megan: So, I’m waiting for the Lord to provide a bit more emotional support, etc. from my new church and I believe “my gut” will tell me when it’s time to leave the marriage for good. Were you confident when you left your ex husband? How did you know that the time was right?

No, I was not that confident when I left my first husband. I was shaking in my little boots. I was with him for 11 years and I never had any emotional/financial/family support for leaving him. A few family members offered for us to stay with them — but I knew that it was only for a time. Those family members would eventually expect me to go back to my abuser (insist on it, even). Except for Give Her Wings team member, Adam, I was alone in my suffering. And Adam couldn’t help me much, during that time, because he was dealing with his own life issues, like we so-often are. What finally happened was that I HAD to leave. I watched my ex-husband hold one of my children upside down by his ankles and shake him out of anger. That incident came upon the heels of my realizing that my children and I all had bruises on our upper arms from his grabbing. And that it was, indeed, abuse. The abuse was getting worse and nothing . . . . nothing would help him. We had tried three years of counseling. Our pastor was involved in my ex’s every-day life. People knew and were trying to help. He probably felt cornered. And he never did well when he felt cornered. 

My child was being destroyed. And I felt like the rest of the the children were not far behind.

When I left, I thought that God would no longer be with me. But that’s how bad things had gotten… My thinking was that I could at least save my children but that I would go to hell. That’s how brainwashed I was, spiritually.

At the same time, I didn’t see that I had a choice and I felt like surely God would have mercy on that. Surely (tears just thinking about that time period).

But I have seen many many many women who simply received peace from the Lord and knew it was time to go, even when they had no idea what future they were facing. It was an act of faith and an act of trust. I had a sort of an “its OK to let go” peace ONLY as we got on the airplane to leave for good. It was like we were being whisked away on Aslan’s breath . . . it was a strange peace that, even though I did not know what we would be facing, it was going to be OK, in the end.

And it wasn’t easy. It is never easy. But we rescue our children, and that is beautiful and, I believe, God honors that.

Now, looking back, there never would’ve been a perfect scenario where I felt confident in leaving. I just did not have people around me who loved the kids and me enough to forego their own legalistic ways of thinking and desire for us to be safe and helped. I don’t blame them . . . they just cannot see beyond their paradigm. I get it.

At the same time, I wish, now, that I had left much earlier. I wish I had not waited for things to get quite that bad. I wish that I had not waited for some sort of a sign. I wish I had not believed that, if people saw the abuse, they would care more. They didn’t. They still held on tightly to their ideas of marriage being more important than life itself.

I think one of the hardest things for Christian women is making the decision to go. It’s so incredibly agonizing. We are waiting for an act of God and we don’t always get one! I have never met one truly, God-fearing, God-loving woman who simply left because “it was easier”. If you love Jesus, leaving a marriage is not the “easy way out”! Heavens, no! 

Sometimes, we just have to look at our children, look at the devastation, and look at the possible devastation in the future and make a decision and do it.

I mean, your children will need help, regardless. My choice was thus: Would I rather they grew up with a harsh father who would probably never get help (because, deep down, I think he thought he was “just fine”) and then be an adult who realizes, somewhere in his/her mid-20’s that things are not “right” and then watching him/her go through ten years of therapy due to his entire childhood? Or, would I get them out then and now and help them, as children, to overcome so they could grow into healthy adults with an intact version of their Heavenly Father and give them a chance for a healthy childhood? I know . . . I know, I know, I know that unraveling the views of an unhealthy and unloving father to show an adult child that “God is not like that” is much MUCH more intricately complicated and difficult than no father at all . . . but for the gracious example of Yahweh. I knew this. That was my tipping point. That was what saved us. In the end, of course, I remarried a wonderful father and example for my children and I consider myself truly deeply blessed. But, I did not know that would happen, at the time. And I was willing to go to save my babies, even if I would struggle as a single mom of four for the rest of my life. There is a certain amount of responsibility that we have, as mothers, to protect our children — however that looks. And I am not one to shirk that responsibility, no matter how hard, no matter who is involved. Family, church-friends . . . I did not care. Setting boundaries was an easy decision when it came to my little lambs. 

Of course, God was with me. Because, ” . . . . even in the valley of the shadow of death . . . “, He is there. No matter what decisions we make, He is ever-loving, ever-merciful, ever-mindful of our situations. Making the “wrong” decision in your eyes and/or in someone else’s eyes does not stop God’s grace from flowing, in your life. But, I am here to tell you that protecting yourself and your children is never a wrong decision. God wants you to be protected. He is your Father.

Love,
Megan

6 Replies to “How Do You Know When it is Time to Leave Abuse? — Thoughts by Megan”

  1. Megan, thank you so much for this. This is truly powerful and so helpful. I know that the realization that the children aren’t safe is often the point at which many women come to clarity.

  2. Thank you for taking the time (and energy) to recount some of your painful story. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to write, just as it is not easy to read. And you are right. It is never easy. Things rarely go from horrible to better, but rather from horrible to horribly emotional, exhausting, confusing, scary and even more uncertain. But it is SO worth it. I too wish I had left sooner.

    I know we wait because we want to make sure we have done absolutely everything in our power to fix things before we give up. But usually our abusers are entrenched in their power hungry ways and know how badly we want to make things right – and exploit that powerful truth against us.

    Looking back, if I could do things over, I would have left as soon as I felt that sick, something-is-disastrously-wrong-here feeling in the pit of my stomach. That sense was telling me everything I needed to know, yet I stayed way beyond that point.

    Dear writer, don’t wait until you have nothing left. If the handwriting is on the wall, see the truth for what it is and protect yourself and any children. Allow me to tell you what no one ever told me: You don’t have to live that way.

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