4th Annual RBB Thriver Award

 C.S. won the maximum $1,000 award for her thriving in spite of torment.

 “I have been married to an abusive man for 13 years. I didn’t know what red flags were until I had been married for over a decade. I didn’t understand the depth of wickedness men are capable of until realizing I have been married to an imposter of the faith.

The abuse started on our honeymoon and only escalated over the years. My husband’s behaviors included threats of suicide with guns for the purpose of control and manipulation, blocking exits, keeping me trapped in rooms, rape, coercion. lies, deceptions, porn, use of hidden cameras, spying, monitoring, withholding funds so I would have to beg for money to pay the bills and feed our children – or pay him for sexual favors for the money, violent animal abuse in front our children and I, abuse of our children (emotional and physical), kicking, intimidation (verbal, body language, and use of guns), regular threats to kill my dog, threats to kill me with details of how it would be done (but twisted to make me the villain), threats to take our children away from me or leave us trapped in the house with only what he choose to feed us, drinking and driving in secret, drinking and driving our children, isolation throwing me against the wall and strangling me in front of our children, sleep deprivation – and a great many things besides.

I felt I was the problem for many years. He would tell me I was such a horrible person that I couldn’t possibly be a Christian; though I sought The Lord and studied the Word as diligently as I knew how and did my best to serve Him, I believed his lies. I thought what he said must be true because he was my husband and said frequently that he loved me. He could also be very kind. But I felt like I was dying and didn’t know how to get well. I had a great many truths to discover from the Word of God which teachers so clearly about men such as these.

At the beginning of each year I was in the habit of praying about a theme for the year the Lord would have me focus on. In 2020 I felt strongly that I needed to be set free from something, though I didn’t know what. All I knew was that the Truth would set me free. As I pursued the Truth, I felt that I was lacking in wisdom and needed it desperately.

So I began to study Proverbs in my quest to find wisdom and really was parked there all year. It was through studying Proverbs that I began to understand and unravel what was going on in my marriage. I remember vividly the day that I was listening to a podcast on marriage – desperate to be a better wife and end the cycles of chaos and fear that controlled our home.

What I heard was a description of abuse. I was stunned. It sounded exactly like my life! I had no idea I had been experiencing abuse. I had no idea it came in cycles. I thought all along I was truly the problem and had begun to despair of life itself. The podcast host recommended calling the National Abuse Hotline if experiencing such things. So I did. More than once. They told me that I had been experiencing every form of abuse possible for the length of my marriage and recommended I develop a safety plan. But I was so confused! My husband could be so charming, so charismatic and quote scripture. He had been disciplined by our pastor for nearly three years, taught the Word of God in our church and called himself a missionary. He professed Christ and read Bible stories to our children.

I took some risk assessments during this time and reached out to our local shelter and found my risk of homicide was about 9 our of 10. As I researched abuse, my husband continued to escalate to the point I wasn’t sure my kids and I would make it out alive. After I watched him kick my daughter and then had me trapped in our bedroom while he took multiple guns, threatening suicide and commanding me not to leave the bed or talk to anyone, while checking me repeatedly throughout most of the night to m make sure I was obeying him and preventing me from going to our children. I couldn’t take it anymore. He had me trapped in the room because I hadn’t checked the phone for three hours while I was homeschooling our children that day. This was not love we were experiencing. It was a prison. Love casts out fear. It doesn’t create it.

Disciples of Christ love others. They don’t lie, deceive and manipulate those they profess to love. They don’t control others for their own gain to satisfy their desires.

The Word of God draws a clear line; either we love and obey Him and walk in light and love, or we follow the father of lies in deception, hatred and darkness. I came to realize I could not follow Christ fully while being forced to worship a man who does not follow Christ in deed and truth. I came to understand that God hates oppression more than He hates divorce.

I came to realize that I was actually previous in His sight and worth deliverance from wickedness. When I could name what we were experiencing, I was able to find clarity and direction. And it was resources like Shirlley’s that helped me name our experiences.

I went to my family seeking help to safely get a restraining order. I was disbelieved by the men in our family and put in danger when my older brother contacted our pastor. This pastor whom I considered to be my friend (and had ministered alongside in our own church as well as in a few different countries) was part of the spiritual abuse I experienced as well. He completlly sided with my abuser and did not act as a mandatory reporter when my daughter experienced physical abuse by her father. In fact, this pastor told me the state would take my kids away because I had sought help from our local domestic violence shelter.

During my time of researching abuse, I stumbled upon Shirley’s workbook. It was hugely helpful to me in unraveling the lies of abuse that are so entrapping and confusing. Her workbook was helpful in staying grounded throughout the process of trying to safely extricate my daughters and I. Being near an abusive person can be like living in a dense fog. Sometimes I wasn’t sure what was up or down, true or false, and her book was like a roadmap that helped me stay on course.

I have a restraining order for about a year and a half now*, and we are hopefully near the end of the legal battle for our divorce, but my kids and I are facing the prospect of possiby being homeless very soon and I am still virtually jobless at the moment I had been cowboying when I met my husband and threw my whole life into being a wife and mother so have been out of the workforce for many years. Though I am attending school online, it will be awhile before I can reap any financial benefit from my schooling and I feel extremely convicted to continue to homeschool my daughters. My goal in completing my schooling is the ability to work from home in order to be with them as much as I can. We have all been diagnosed with PTSD and I feel they need as much nurturing and stability as I can provide for them.

This grant will be extremely helpful in regaining our footing and rebuilding our lives as I attempt to start over and provide a haven for my daughters that is free of abuse.”

  • Since this writing, her ex did everything to drag out the divorce until finally mediation brought it to an end. Her parents have since supported her and provided alternative housing for them.

Published by Fessup

A 30-year veteran educator and counselor, published author, lifelong student of religion and women's issues, educator with divinebalance.org, mother, and lover of Far Side humor.