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A Survivor's Story

It was my 13th wedding anniversary earlier this month. I didn’t actually realise until my Facebook memories popped up and there I was, all dressed in white, beaming with excitement and full of hope. I wondered:

Would I have gone through with it if I’d known the horrible twists and turns that my marriage would take?

Just over four years ago, I asked my husband to leave our home. The atmosphere had become so toxic, it no longer felt like a ‘safe’ place. I’d become so used to being treated with contempt that I only realised how bad things had got when our daughter interrupted her dad, saying:

Daddy, stop being mean to Mummy!

It hit me like a ton of bricks. She deserved better than this. I deserved better than this. This was NOT the example of marriage I wanted her to emulate.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

— Psalm 46 (NIV) —

I had been praying for a breakthrough in my marriage for years, but the verbal and emotional abuse had worsened since I’d discovered my husband’s cocaine habit 18 months earlier.

I was determined to stand by him. I believed that’s what God wanted me to do; I desperately wanted our story to show God’s healing power. Some very close and trusted friends prayed alongside me and there were times it really felt like God was moving. But my husband’s free will seemed to keep ‘derailing’ things.

When the extent of the deception and abuse became clearer, my pastor explicitly stated that I had ample grounds for divorce and assured me that I could rely on his full support – and that of the wider church family.

Leaving My Church

I’m sure my very close church friend’s motives were good when she tried to ‘help’ my husband and I following our separation. Sadly, I realised she was no longer a ‘safe’ person when I told her how my husband’s erratic behaviour was frightening me; she scoffed in disbelief, totally dismissing my trauma.

To this day, I don’t know whether she’s aware of his conviction for harassment, or the subsequent Restraining Order.

I don’t know whether she regrets (or even remembers) laughing in my face in disbelief.

I don’t know how long it’ll take me to heal from the fact that she didn’t believe me.

What I do know is that I’ve not felt able to set foot back in that particular church since. I don’t bear any ill will towards her; I just can’t face bumping into her.

Thankfully, I never had to explain to my pastor why I left his church as he retired. I loved my church, but it just doesn’t feel like ‘home’ any more.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

— Romans 8:26 (NIV) —

The total collapse of my marriage has been one of the hardest, most painful seasons I’ve ever experienced, but I don’t think it’s any coincidence that it’s also been the most powerful, awe-inspiring and affirming season in terms of my faith.

When my whole world collapsed beneath me, all I could rely on was God.

I’ve experienced a profound peace, which hasn’t made ‘sense’ to anyone around me who don’t share my faith, giving me plentiful opportunities to share my beliefs and the way God continues to come through for me time and time again. It might sound like a cliché – but my marital misfortune seems to have turned into a form of ‘ministry’!

How does God 'Speak' to us?

Every time I’ve stumbled, fallen flat on my face and felt like I can’t cope, God has shown me that He’s got me in the palm of His hand. I’ve never heard an audible ‘voice’ – but I’m convinced that God speaks to us through things like:

Worship Music

Singing along to worship music never fails to lift my spirits and I often belt out anthem after anthem at the top of my voice in my car (much to the amusement of anyone who draws alongside me!). If you don’t like singing, just listening to it has the power to shift the atmosphere.


God’s encouragement permeates my home via television and YouTube – I’ve lost count of the times a specific message has popped up exactly when I needed to hear it. I record every episode of 'Better Together' (on TBN UKSky Channel 582 and Freeview Channel 66) just to make sure there’s always something uplifting available for me to watch when doubts start to creep in (which they inevitably do from time to time!) and I need to give my faith a ‘jump start’!

Social Media

I’ve found an incredible network of peer support on Facebook. In addition to the resources on the Restored Facebook page, here are some of the other accounts I’ve followed and found very helpful:

The Life-Saving Divorce—Gretchen Baskerville

Patrick Weaver Ministries

Sarah McDugal – Wilderness to Wild

Modern Day Ruth

Peer Support

I can wholeheartedly recommend the ‘Kintsugi Hope’ course which is run by Restored; I found it incredibly powerful, healing and empowering. We could be real with one another, open up about the hard stuff, how we’d been hurt and how we were walking the horrible path none of us chose.

The Best is Yet to Come

I’m not going to sugar-coat it; the last few years have been hard. Harder than hard. There were times I thought I might never recover. But God…

Today, I’m still in the thick of the divorce process, having filed for divorce last year.

While I’m in a less than ideal position in worldly terms (finances, work etc) I have complete faith that God will take care of me. So long as I lean into Him and make the conscious decision every single day to trust Him, everything will work out the way it’s meant to be.

I’ve done a lot of healing and growing since my soon-to-be-ex-husband left our home.

I can now look at my wedding photos without feeling nauseous.

I can honestly say I don’t regret marrying him, because without him, I wouldn’t have had my daughter.

I know that the best is yet to come, for all of us.

"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten."

— Joel 2:25-32 —

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