Sad Thinker girl sitting in bed with arms folded.

In Domestic Violence, I Continued to Pray

I sat listlessly looking at myself in the mirror. Pox like scars dotted my cheeks, my arms, and my legs. The addiction was physical, with reminders on my skin. I felt my chest grow tight with desperation. I wanted to be better. I needed God’s help.

Although I realized what my affliction was and how to cure it, I could not do it on my own will power. I went to treatment, I abstained for sixty to ninety days at a time, and I prayed. Despite my efforts, life did not get better, nor did my addiction. Even with brief periods of abstinence, I was still living the erratic life of an addict and suffering the consequences.

I felt as though God was abandoning me. I could physically feel His absence from my life, as though He stood back, looking on but not looking over me. He had turned his back on me just as my actions had shown me to do to Him.

At the time, I was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of my then boyfriend. I had hope that it was my fault, and therefore, in my power to fix. I employed many strategies to make it stop. I tried being sweeter, speaking less, and abstaining from drugs. Nothing made the constant torment stop. I prayed and prayed for an end to the violence.

Things only got worse.

My misery grew and at times I became catatonic, refusing to move or speak for hours at a time. I felt like God was no longer interested in me or in answering my frequent prayers. I became aware that staying in my current situation was against His plans. I began to feel as though my every day choices were in conflict with His will. I continued to do the best I could, addicted and abused. Importantly, I continued to pray.

Then COVID-19 happened. I was laid off as the bar I worked at closed its doors. The abuse became much worse as I was unable to escape to work each day. As weeks went by, my boyfriend became angrier and angrier. I went deeper into addiction and used more and more to cope with the loss of work, the loss of income, and the increase in violence.

I read news articles about men snapping from the isolation COVID had caused. Men who beat their spouses under normal circumstances were now going too far and killing them. I read another article which stated that the number one way for victims of domestic violence to die was via strangulation. I became very afraid. With little faith left, I prayed again.

I was no longer praying specifically for anything. I just prayed for something new to happen. I completely gave up my own ideas of the future and prayed for an answer which I could not fathom but which God knew already. As I look back, COVID-19 was the answer to my many prayers.

Five weeks after the outbreak shut down my workplace, my boyfriend snapped. I saw blackness as he lifted me up by my neck. My feet kicked in the air, attempting to find something solid to stand on. It is unknown how long he held me there, but a few days later, my neck, my wrists, and my ankles were covered in deep purple bruises.

When he released me, I hit him for the first time in our five-year relationship. He had hit me plenty of times, but I had never fought back. There was a new type of anger which comes along with the instinct of self-preservation. I swung and hit him with something halfway between an open hand and a fist. It felt odd with no muscle memory to back up the movement.

After I did this, I felt the anger give way to extreme terror. I was afraid of how he would retaliate. Taking the Rubbermaid tote, I had packed two years ago just in case, I fled.

The next morning my mom came from across the Cascades, picked me and my tote up, and drove me to her house in the valley. Finally, I knew I was safe.

It didn’t take long after that event for me to realize that God had answered my prayers, though admittedly, not in the way I thought he would. He knew I was too weak to leave on my own without such a scare. If my boyfriend hadn’t nearly killed me, I never would have left and got clean for good. This was the event that answered nearly a year of prayers. And I became grateful for the assault which transformed my life.

Sometimes we feel like God isn’t listening, but he always answers prayers. He has great plans for each of us, though it is a winding road. I am glad that my faith was able to withstand a time of such misery and that such a traumatic event actually caused my faith to grow. I remain astounded that all of this was in His plans for me from the beginning and feel great wonder knowing He has more in store for me.