Now "Beloved" - As one of the six original women who formed Hagar’s Sisters, I was there at the beginning as we gathered to encourage each other and to discern God’s will regarding the issue we all shared in common – our abuse. Although fifteen of my twenty years of marriage had been unhappy, I was unable to recognize the problem as abuse. I called it “mind games.” By the time we separated, his abusive actions had escalated to sexual assault, verbal abuse, and terrifying mood swings – but he had never hit me. The abuse also affected my children to the extent that one of my pre-teen daughters slept under her bed at night. But he always did just enough for me to have hope that things would improve. He was very involved at church and had been willing to go to counseling.
Then, during a convention for work, I attended a domestic violence workshop. As the leader read a list of the characteristics of abuse, I checked off item after item that was present in my marriage. I was in shock. It was horrifying to realize that the “mind games” I had experienced were, in fact, abuse.
Naming my abuse was only the start of my journey. Financial issues, a daughter in treatment for a brain tumor, and my commitment to my wedding vows made it almost impossible to leave. Finally the pain of staying became worse than the pain of leaving. With a sense of both failure and fear, I left my marriage.
I cried out to God and He led me to Hagar’s Sisters. But joining was scary. I had learned to self-soothe myself in unhealthy ways that did not honor God. Ashamed, I hid from God and was nervous about being with a group of Christian women. I worried that my abuse wasn’t real because it wasn’t physical. I figured that others had endured worse and that I had moved “beyond all that” on my own. Why should I go and dredge up all that pain again?
But God knew best. From my first meeting, the Sisters welcomed me. They defined and validated my experience and shared their own very similar stories. The Biblical truths taught at the meetings made me realize that God hates abuse and doesn’t intend for me or anyone else to live with it. Hagar’s Sisters showed me the power of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness.
Today, I am happily remarried, my children and I are safe, and I am able to help others. The abundant love and Godly education I received through Hagar’s Sisters has given me a new song, a new relationship with my Lord, and a new name - Beloved.
“K” is a remarried mother of three adult children – LINCOLN, MA