Ever wonder why I know so much about abusive relationships? It’s not because I’ve been in one myself (thank God!) but because my sister has endured one for almost ten years now.
All this time my family has watched in agony supporting her the three times she left and went back to her husband. The holidays where he would pick fights with her so she couldn’t come see her family because she was so upset. (It was always fine to go see his family, of course!) The inconsequential fights he would pick with us so that he had a reason to further isolate her from friends and family. The emotional abuse. The bruises that she claimed she didn’t “remember” getting.
Years of not being able to hold a job due to substance abuse meant that my sister’s husband often encouraged her to borrow money from family members. (They borrowed A LOT from all of us.) They moved more times than anyone I’ve ever known. As it turns out their money often went to his addictions (yes, plural). They were often evicted and even homeless at one time.
Years of pastors trying to intervene left my sister with some hope but as soon as her husband demanded to stop counseling, the abuse would continue. He couldn’t keep up the facade that counseling required. And he literally wanted everyone else to like him but his wife. He’s sickeningly charming and so few (if any) of the members of their church ever knew what really went on at home. (Or even just in the car on the way home!)
At one point I actually inquired about an equity loan on my home so that I could pay him to leave town. It was doubtful that plan would have worked but it did make me feel a little useful. Years of prayers from my family went unanswered as we collectively begged God for the man’s salvation and a heart change. They never came despite assurances from my sister that things were “better.”
As excruciatingly difficult as it was for us, I can only imagine how my sis had to shut down mentally in order to just exist in that marriage. But I am blessed to say that she has finally left him and actually filed for divorce. A little over a week ago she called to say things had not been getting better as she had originally said and packed her things to come home. Praise God!
Now begins the healing process.
For nearly ten years my (soon to be ex) brother-in-law told my sister that she is worthless. That all the troubles they experienced (large and small) were somehow her fault. That her family and friends were causing problems in their marriage. (Because she was happy when she spent time away from home.) That she couldn’t even have a job outside the house because he couldn’t control who she talked to. He had also convinced her that she was a flirt and couldn’t be trusted. (By the way, she’s not.)
My sister has to start over from scratch. She is fortunate to have a place to stay with our parents and a loaner car but now she needs to find a job and get her life on track. It’s doubtful that he’ll agree to any alimony but, thankfully, there are no children or property to be divided in this scenario. She should be able to make a clean break of it and piece her life back together.
So, if you are a praying person, I’d appreciate your prayers for my sister but also for my parents who are her main source of support at this time. Her healing will need to been in tandem with theirs. Entire extended families are scarred as the result of these abusive relationships.
Also, if you are in an abusive relationship, please, get out now. There’s no reason to stay. You can’t change him. In fact, he probably will never want to change as long as you stay. And you deserve a better life.
For more information on leaving an abusive situation check out: Leaving Abuse or search for “domestic abuse shelter” along with the name of your city. If you don’t have family nearby to lend their support, there are resources out there to help you. Please, don’t wait!