April 2004- I started dating this guy I met at church. To protect identities I will call him Joe. He was nice, friendly; he was a Christian and he asked me out on a date. June 2005- We got married.
I've gone back to those days and months time and time again and wondered if there was something I missed. Was there something I should have seen? I still can't answer that. He had said he was a Christian, but was he producing fruit? I'm not sure I'll ever know those answers. There is so much that happened in such a short time. I kept journals and wrote everything down. The good, the bad and everything in between.
The abuse began immediately after we got married. On our honeymoon in fact. Joe would hold me down, restrain me...he threatened to leave me in a parking lot and locked me out of our car. He said it was for my own good; that he was only helping me. It was a lie and I knew it. It happened over and over again. He would squeeze me so hard that I couldn't breath. I would leave him for a few days after that so he could cool down. He always begged me to come home and promised it would never happen again. And I listened to him.
Thanksgiving morning 2005, I found out I was pregnant with my beautiful baby girl Savannah. It wasn't much longer until the abuse became worse and he started hitting me. He spent a night in jail, and I had to call the police multiple times. On top of that, I found out that Joe had become addicted to internet pornography. He tried to hide it, and he even denied it for the longest time. In December 2006, I left him for good. I'm not sure if I ever would have done it if it weren't for my baby girl. I knew she deserved so much better than an abusive father, and I was never going to let him hurt her.
I told Joe that if he wanted me to come home, then he needed to get help. I wanted him to go to counseling for his anger issues and abuse, and to seek help for his addiction to pornography. He still felt that I was making a big deal out of nothing and that I was the one who needed to change. He told me maybe he wouldn't hit me so much if I would just show him a little respect.
So I moved back in with my parents. I can still remember how my heart felt like it was breaking into a million pieces. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. I was terrified for my daughter. If he had hit me, what would stop him from hitting her? How was I going to keep her safe if Joe refused to get help?
I never thought that I would ever actually meet my little girl face to face. Joe would call me literally 60 times in one day and leave threatening voicemails calling me all kinds of horrible names. We went to counseling together, which was a big mistake. In going together, Joe tried to pin a lot of the guilt from the abuse on me. The counselor we saw was a nice man, but clearly not experienced with dealing with domestic violence. So I began seeing an accountability partner to help me in my walk with God, and continued to attend Bible studies and church services at my church.
I waited for what seemed like forever. Two years passed and Joe was exactly the same as when I had left him, if not worse. He came to my parents house to see Savannah maybe once a month and for a half hour at a time, and he would fall asleep on the floor instead of playing with her. This was no life for my little girl. Joe still had angry outbursts and I did my best to keep her from seeing any of it. I also found out that during the 2 years I lived at my parents, Joe had been having affairs. It was time for one final act on my part in an attempt to get Joe to want to turn his life around. I filed for divorce.
I remember hearing "The Good Life" by Audio Adrenaline with tears rolling down my cheeks because it perfectly described me. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. I had lost everything but I had gained everything I will ever need.. It was just me and my little girl. Yes, I had amazing family and friends who stood behind me 100%, but in the end, there was nothing they could do for me except just to pray. They couldn't take the hurt away even though I know they were hurting for me. I know sometimes when we experience trials, it's so hard to trust God to get us through. But I did. I grew closer to God than I had ever been in my entire life.
I prayed every day for my little girl and her safety.There were days that I struggled with trusting God with all of my worrying. I had Bible verses written on 3 x 5 index cards and placed around my room as reminders. When I felt the worry creeping back in, I read those Bible verses out loud. Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." I prayed over and over again to God to keep Savannah safe.
A lot has happened since then. In the final stages of the divorce, I saw an amazing counselor to help me deal with the grief. She helped me put my life back together. I had the privilege of getting to know a very sweet and godly man named Aaron. We became best friends and he treated Savannah with such love and kindness. It was better than I could have ever dreamed. I am blessed to say that he is now my husband and we are approaching our second wedding anniversary. We have another baby girl, Scarlette who is 2 weeks shy of her first birthday.
And two months ago, our prayers were answered when Joe signed off his parental rights for my beautiful baby girl, Savannah and she is now legally Aaron's daughter. God answers prayer. My life is proof of this! There is so much that God has taught me these past 7 years. My prayer is that God will use me to help others who may have gone through the same circumstances.