Those were the words I spoke, as I prayed to God for my life. My then-husband was choking the life out of me, and I somehow knew that, in his anger, he was not aware that he was killing me. There were people around, but no one stepped up to help me, so I started to pray to God, for I believed that was my only hope. I admit that I was not sure He would hear me and answer before I died, but as I felt my spirit falling into a black hole, I said in my mind or spirit, ” Lord, don’t let me die like a dog in the street!” Immediately, my eyes opened and I was eye level with my abuser, and I said to him, “Go ahead and kill me. I would rather be dead than live with you.”
Where those sentiments came from, I don’t know, because I really wanted to live, because I had four children that needed me. They had already lost their biological mother, my only sibling, and the thought of them losing a second mother was too much for me. But, I know now that God placed them in my mind, because the moment I said them, he let go of my neck, asserting, “I wouldn’t give you the satisfaction of dying.” On the way home, he said, “I am going to beat you every day until you learn to respect me.”
As we rode home, my thoughts were not on whether I was going to be beaten or not, because I realized that God had answered my call, and that He did not save my life for me to go through further abuse. In Isaiah 65:24, it states, “I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” I knew that God was going to rescue me from this situation, and He did, giving me the courage to leave and going ahead of me to open doors that I could not see or anticipate!
When we arrived home, he went to sleep. It amazes me that men beat women nearly senseless and then go to sleep around them, without worrying about them retaliating. The women are so scared that they just are glad for a breather from the abuse. But I had already been beaten every day as a teenager by someone I thought loved me, and I was not going through that again. So, I prayed for God to save me from violent men. My prayer was similar to David in Psalm 59:2, which says, “Deliver me from my enemies, O my God. Defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men.”
As scared as I was that he would wake up and catch me trying to leave, I reached into his pockets, took his last twenty dollars, called a taxi, went to the Greyhound bus station, and caught the first bus back to Atlanta. I had quit my job in Atlanta on Friday and came home to my husband because people said that as a Christian woman, I should submit to his wishes and return to him. I was working in Atlanta and sending money home to my mother for my four children, mainly because he had said to me, “I am tired of taking care of other people’s children. You get a job.” So, returning home meant there would be fewer funds for caring for my children, but I made the decision to obey my husband. I failed to pay attention to that feeling in my spirit warning me not to go home; instead, I tried to live as others, particularly my Christian friends, expected of me. Learn to listen to the feelings in your spirit, for God will never lead you astray.
October is Domestic Violence Prevention Month, and as people of God, we need to change how we counsel women in abusive relationships who try to live godly lives. To tell them to return to someone who is hurting them physically, emotionally, sexually, or spiritually violates God’s admonition to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. I would ask pastors and priests to remember that Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” Also, in verses 28-29 it further states, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.”
If a man is beating his wife, he certainly is not loving her as God intended, and the Church, represented by the ministers, pastors, and priests, need to hold these men accountable, rather than preaching that women should submit and be obedient, no matter what they are enduring. Preach as fervently about men’s bad behavior as you do about women’s behavior. Yes, I know that men can be victims as well, and I do not discount their suffering.
Psalm 30:1-3 states, “I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me. O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.” Today, I thank God for saving me, and I believe that I have a responsibility to use all platforms available to me to tell my story, in hopes that a change will happen in how we treat the survivors of abuse. From this page to your eyes, America.
Dear Father in Heaven,
Hear our prayers, O Lord. Incline your ears to us, and grant us your peace. Let the violence end, and give us the courage to speak against this vile behavior, as people of God who understand what love truly looks like. In Jesus’s Name, I pray. Amen.