One of my college professors gave us the opportunity to earn extra credit by volunteering to do some type of community service. My work at a battered women’s shelter never prepared me for a harsh lesson I was about to learn. Initially, I met a woman named Mary whose warm smile made me comfortable. We sat down and exchanged the general “getting to know you” questions. Her demeanor gave me the impression that she was also a volunteer. Little did I know, her story would turn out to be a life altering testimonial that would change me forever.
“You know, when people come here to do volunteer work, if they have not been in an abusive situation or know of someone who was, they could never fathom our stories.”
“So you’re a resident here?” I asked.
Yes. You act surprised?
Well, you don’t look like…
A battered, broken down, hopeless looking woman?
No, I didn’t mean it like that.
Honey, let me break it down for you. Late one night my husband came home sloppy drunk, which became a normal thing for me. He became infuriated because I didn’t have dinner on the table at 1:30 in the morning. He dragged home whenever he felt like it. He was so loud that I was certain the neighbors heard him. I tried calming him down so that he would not awaken our children, but that only made him more furious. He grabbed me by my shoulders and the next thing I knew, he rammed me into the bedroom door.
Oh my God!
And when I say he rammed me, he actually did. The door crashed down on top of my bed, hinges and all, with my body’s imprint in it!
My Lord, I’m so sorry…
“Oh girl, don’t feel sorry for me. That indeed was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I probably would have stayed if I didn’t watch a program that night, about a young lady who had an extremely jealous boyfriend who tried to kill her. She said she loved him so much that she stuck by him, in hopes that he would one day realize how much he was hurting her. This guy was in and out of jail. Her mistake came when she decided to move on and let him go, but felt sorry for him and stayed. Her gut feeling told her not to, but for lack of better judgment, she willingly invited the devil back into her life.” Mary started tearing up as she talked about this young woman’s story.
“If talking about this upsets you, then you don’t have to finish,” I said, putting my hands on hers.
No, I have to. Anyway, her boyfriend stormed over to her house in a fit of rage and shouted that if he couldn’t have her, no one else will. Without warning, he took out a pistol and shot her point blank in the head.
He left her in a pool of blood for dead. If neighbors didn’t hear the gunshots and called the police, she would have been. Miraculously, the bullet didn’t penetrate her brain or damage her fighting spirit. Towards the end of her interview she said something that really hit home with me.
What was that?
That God gives us opportunities to escape if we would only pay attention to the signs. Our so called human logic keeps us in bondage. I’ll never forget the scripture she quoted from Psalm 124:7: “We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken and we have escaped.” (NIV) That night after I crashed through my bedroom door, my husband finally passed out in a drunken stupor on the living room floor. It was then, that I gathered my children with just the clothes on our backs and we fled that house like it was on fire. God broke that snare and showed us a way to escape from behind the invisible bars of manipulation, cruelty and inexcusable abuse.
Wow, what an amazing story!
This isn’t just a story honey; it’s a harsh reality. I’m telling you this, so that you can tell others. There is a way of escape. There is hope! We just have to pay attention to the warning signs, run with urgency through the doors of freedom and never look back with regrets. Listen to your inner voice. That’s God speaking! It could be a matter of life...or death.
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