I was scared of God all my life. I grew up being told that we are here on earth to suffer: the more we suffer, the better chance we have to go to heaven. I was also told that God punishes us all the time.  I believed that whatever bad thing was happening, I could be 100% sure it was sent to me by God. There were no other options–I had to accept it.  I also thought that the more people-pleasing, compliant, and submissive I was, the more people would love me. But I realized that was so wrong, because no matter how much I listened and tried to please my husband, there was abuse. A good friend, who knew the terrible physical, sexual, and emotional abuse I was suffering from, gave me the Hagar’s Sisters phone number.  I dialed the number twice but hung up each time. If I couldn’t trust the man who married me, how could I trust strangers?  When I called the third time, I knew I had to stay on the line because I was desperate.  I was so afraid that I asked, “Are you recording this conversation?”  I didn’t want to give out my name, my address or even my phone number. But finally, I knew that the only way to get the help I needed was to take this scary step. I decided to attend a Hagar’s Sisters support group class.  My first day I was scared to say even a word.  Every time it was my turn to speak, I would cry so much that I couldn’t express myself!  The more classes I went to, the more I realized that the issues in my marriage were actually abuse, which made it even more difficult to manage my emotions. I felt upset, resentful, sad, and scared.  Even though the leaders and Sisters told me things would get better, I couldn’t believe it.  At one meeting I asked my leader, “Where was God when I was suffering?”  She answered me with a question: “Have you asked God to help you?”  I realized that I hadn’t, and it was at that moment when everything started to change!  I finally understand that yes, what happened to me was really bad . . . but the abuse was not my fault.  I know I am responsible for my own life, choices, and emotions, and I know it is my responsibility to get better, no matter how long it takes. I have a long way to go and some really hard moments coming my way, but I am not alone anymore. I have God with me all the time, and I have each of my friends at Hagar’s Sisters.  I know the answer to the question I had for my leader when I first came: “Where was God when I was suffering so much?” God was always with me. I just had to take the time to talk with him and, most importantly, to listen to him. I can’t put into words what Hagar’s Sisters has done for me. What I learned made me a better daughter of God, a better mother for my three kids, and a better person.   Yes, the abuse will always be a part of my story, but . . .  it is not my identity. I am no longer a victim; I am a survivor!

Be Inspired, Learn, Take a Stand

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