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Finding belonging: Amanda's story

I recently read the words "what we can’t control we deny”, in a book by priest and writer Richard Rohr. I have to admit that I had done enough denying myself just to simply survive, but when my world as I knew it collapsed, the mess and devastation that came next was like a never-ending tornado. Two abusive marriages, twenty-four years of my life, and I could no longer recognise who I was. All I could do was cling on to some kind of normality for the sake of my children. How was I ever going to make sense of anything anymore?

I cannot tell you how many mornings I spent in the shower, sobbing deeply, desperately trying to figure out how all of this could happen to me! I'd finally step out of the shower knowing I had to put on my mask and get on with the day. “I’m fine, no, I AM fine!” as the lyrics to Matthew West’s song Truth Be Told says. I was far from fine. Why could I not shift this overwhelming sorrow?

One day, a small piece of the puzzle fell into place. I was listening to a lecture on grief, given by a Right Reverend, who explained that even divorced couples, however acrimonious their split, grieve! It sounded like an oxymoron but it was true. In this moment I realised just how much I was grieving over the loss of what I thought I had, but that had turned out to be a lie. It was all gone, including the material things like the house. Some precious items and the Bible I had given to him on our wedding day had been defaced and planted in a box I had managed to retrieve. At last I could name the feeling I had, and healing could begin.

"In this moment I realised just how much I was grieving over the loss of what I thought I had."

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Woman portrait

Very soon after this, Restored miraculously came into my life. I was now searching for explanations: how can this have happened in a Christian relationship? Why me? I quickly got my hands on a Survivor's Handbook, finally recognising myself as a survivor now, not a victim. It was here that my grief found its witness, as I recognised so much of myself in the book and in sharing with others in the community of survivors – I found my people.

I talk about how my chains fell off, I literally felt freedom in every sense! To some extent this was hard because as I had to rediscover who I was, making my own decisions, taking back control; I wasn’t used to that. I was living again but now had to face the guilt I felt for the impact of those years on my children and family. It has taken a lot of work, but when I was ready God put the right people beside me to walk through the next phase of recovery.

I say recovery because that it what this journey is about. A new minister had come to my church and she embraced me with her empathy, enthusiasm and love which led me into my own ministry. Through her I came back into the fold. I have always said that the things that had happened to me would not define me but would shape me, and I firmly believe this. I now work as a chaplain at a hostel for families experiencing homelessness, and see so many impacted by domestic abuse. Being homeless is scary enough without the trauma of domestic violence. My Lord and Saviour has given me everything I need as I endeavour to bring Jesus into the lives of others through acceptance, love, and God’s peace, and walk alongside them as they travel their own bumpy journey.

"My new church minister embraced me with her empathy, enthusiasm and love."

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I am a child of God. Jesus went to the cross for me! That thought stops me in my tracks whenever I think about it. It is because of him I can walk in freedom because I belong to the one who wants us all to know what it means to live in the fullness of life through Jesus Christ. My heart’s desire is for every victim of domestic abuse to know that too.

Help more survivors find a place to belong

You can change the story for more survivors like Amanda, through your church or by getting involved with Restored yourself.

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