Hi- I hope this will bless you, and let you know God loves each one of you and has great plans for your lives. Wordwarrior “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” Joel: 2:25 – The Holy Bible From someone who’s been there… Where do I start? At the beginning, end, middle – it’s difficult to embark on expressing so vast a heaviness in just a few words. Domestic Violence is a debilitating scourge that eats away at a woman’s soul - bit by bit she is emptied of her talent, will, and emotion until she stands - a small shell - that is crushed by each powerful wave of violence that overcomes her. After enduring my ex-husband’s beatings for years to include, but not limited to, death threats, biting, spitting in my face, the ripping of my arm tendons, punching, slapping, sexual abuse and some emotional and mental battering that made the physical abuse appear palatable - I could bear no more. One day, about 12 years ago, I began to clean our upper middle class home (yes folks, not all victims of DV live in the inner city…), and to iron the clothing. I lined up a weeks worth of things for my two little boys and now ex-husband to wear, prepared dinner and vacuumed the home. I then proceeded to take a black garbage bag and shut my bedroom door. I took out my twenty-two revolver and sat, thinking with the garbage bag over my head, wondering how to shoot myself most neatly, as my ex-husband always hated a mess. It is sad, but this was the point Domestic Violence had driven me to. As I held the gun to the side of my head, letting my finger slide calmly along the trigger, I heard a small knock on the door. “Mommy, what are you doing??” The voice asked quietly from the other side. I swallowed hard, and answered, “Nothing, just cleaning up. I’ll be down in a minute.” I listened as the small footsteps descended down the staircase, and I angrily accused God, shouting furiously at him in my mind, “You won’t even leave me this - my worthless life - you knew the one thing that would keep me here and you sent him straight to the door. You must really hate me to let me live in this abusive hell - well, I guess I hate You too.” I was livid at God for not leaving me to my own hands - for not allowing me to take my life. For the next few years, I lived in the pit of physical abuse, endured two miscarriages, watched my abuser beat me, and my now three children, and allowed him to rip our souls to shreds each day. I believed in God, and although I was very angry with Him - I still tried to hold to what He would want of me. My ex-husband knew this, and used it - twisting the Bible to fit his own warped view of marriage, and the role of husband and wife. Even worse, our pastor’s told me it was my duty to stay in the abusive marriage to preserve the sanctity of our “marriage”. Year after year, my ex-husband sucked the life out of me, but miraculously he didn’t take everything - deep down somewhere there was still a will to live. Sometimes during the stormiest points in life God speaks in a whisper. He did so with me. When my ex-husband began to increase his level of abuse toward the children something inside of me snapped. I broke my pact to stay angry with God and began to ask for His help. After a spiritual struggle of sorts - I really gave my life to Jesus and His service. Prior to this, I was the sort of Christian that knew how to be saved, but never really made the commitment whole heartedly. I prayed to Jesus begging Him to help me get out of this mess - He answered. At this point things began to change. A new wave of strength came over me. God began to transform my cowardly attributes into those of a courageous person - someone I did not know. I didn’t care if my abuser threatened to kill me. God provided me the materials I needed to get the children and me out safely through a friend who asked for some writing help on a College Paper - most curiously on abuse. As I gathered the information for her - I used it to plan our escape. After the final abusive incident, I walked out with my three boys - and the police subsequently granted me a restraining order against my abuser and removed 14 guns and weapons from my abusers home. Was it an easy road after this? No! I endured years of battle in court with my ex, and still am. My ex walked away smelling like a rose, getting away with a next-to-nothing child support order, and, in my opinion, the court actually took pity on him. He was slapped on the wrist for the abuse he admitted to in court in the form of mandatory “anger management classes” and “Psychiatric sessions”. I, in turn, had to leave my 3 bedroom colonial home, transform from “stay-at-home” mom to primary support of the children, scrub bathrooms and clean homes to make money, utilized state assistance when possible, left my “adult” status at the door and moved in with my parents for 5 years, patched up our scarred lives through the use of family therapists, scraped my sorry life off the floor, went back to college, and made a go of it. Only my pillow and God could divulge how many tears were shed as a result of this transformation from victim to victor. Each day still has its stresses --- it seems when God gives a person power, Satan adds more pressure. But I have freedom now - and that is worth it all. I left my abuser’s home a wife and stay-at-home mom with no money, no education, no job, no clothing and a $400.00 broken down car. I am now two classes away from obtaining my BA in Literature/Theatre, and I am in the Honors Program. I have a 3.906 GPA, and I have won dozens of scholarships. I am now working full time as a Deputy Tax Collector of a large NJ Township. I have just remarried to a wonderful, non-abusive man. I have lobbied for (and recently had introduced) a bill in NJ legislature that will mandate prison for abuser’s that break their restraining orders. I am a published writer, and I speak and write on Domestic Violence often. My boys are doing well. As an update to this testimony after years of medical issues that went unanswered I have finally been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia – no cure, and lots of pain. In addition my ex-husband continues to abuse me through the court system, and has most recently broken his restraining order. He goes to court this Tuesday. While I am beaten down by my physical state, and my stress levels are high due to my ex-husband, I know God is there and there is a reason for all this. I KNOW He will use it in my life to help others. On the positive side, I will complete college 5/09 and graduate with my BA/Honors at age 45! Survival. Jesus took the life I was willing to toss in the garbage, and lovingly restored it - He has made all things new in my life. He’s in the business of doing that though - using the weak and making them strong. I’m living proof. Can an abused life have a purpose? Mine has. Yours can too. By giving up too soon you might just miss what your life was originally intended for - I almost did.