Let’s say your husband hits you. Or pushes you. Or slaps you.
Or let’s say he has never hit you.
But he has forced you – forced you – to have sex when you said no.
Or let’s say he hasn’t hit you and he hasn’t forced you to have sex. Let’s say it’s not that obvious.
But he has looked you in the eye and outright lied to you, deceived you, gaslighted you.
Or he was called you names, horrible names, or tells you that you’re crazy.
Or you can’t buy what you want or even what you need without asking him for permission, and you have no access to your money (whether you work outside the home or not).
Or you can’t make simple decisions on your own – when to take the kids to the doctor, what time to have dinner, how to load the dishwasher, what you can wear, who your friends can be, when you can go out.
Or he follows you.
Or he thinks you’re lying to him, when you’re not.
Or he has told you that if you talk to a counselor, you’ll be bringing the devil into your marriage.
Or he tells your children lies about you.
Or he tries to trick you.
Or he manipulates you.
Or he drives drunk with you and your kids and doesn’t let you drive him when he’s been drinking.
Or he makes fun of you.
Then, my sweet one, you might be in an abusive relationship.
I want you to stop for a moment and read this post. Then come right back here.
So, you may be waking up to your reality. And you don’t know what to do about it.
And why don’t you know what to do? Why don’t you just leave?
Because, first of all, you may not have realized that’s the kind of relationship you’ve been in.
Secondly, you believe marriage is forever.
Thirdly, you probably have heard that divorce is only for cheaters. And there is no other reason.
Fourthly, you’ve maybe been told that you need to get back in there and submit and have more sex and cook more dinners and clean that house better and shut your mouth and pray much more.
Fifthly, maybe no one has believed you.
Okay, so here you are. You think you are possibly being abused in your marriage. I believe you. And here’s what I want you to do.
If it’s physical or if you’re children are being physically abused, I want you to either make a safety plan immediately, find a local women’s shelter, or call the National Abuse Hotline (800-799-7233). Please, please find a safe place for you and your children to stay while you figure out what’s next. (Do not – I repeat – do not just up and tell your husband that you are divorcing him. Take some deep breaths. Safety first, big decisions later.)
If it’s any other form of abuse, there are three things I want you to do:
Work on a safety plan because abuse can tend to escalate when left unchecked.
Check out this Tech Safety For Victims And Survivors Of Domestic Violence guide.
Get into counseling so you can begin to untangle the issues with professional help.
Decide prayerfully which of your friends is trustworthy and in whom you can confide, and then tell someone. (Yes, this will be scary. Yes, it will take courage. But these are the steps to take to heal.)
You are not alone. God sees you. And I see you. And there is hope.
(Sidenote: And if this sounds like your relationship but you’re not married yet, sweet girl, walk away. Marriage will not FIX this. Marriage will INCREASE this. You still have time.)