I was brought up in a loving Christian home, where it was encouraged to welcome everyone. I knew nothing about abuse or violence.
When I left home, I trained to be a teacher. I worked in England and Germany, and very much enjoyed travelling at this time. However, I soon wanted to settle down and get married. I met and married my husband when I was living in the UK. He wasn’t a Christian at the time, but was interested and became a Christian after several years of marriage.
We lived in England for a couple of years after we were married, and had our first baby. At this time, Mike was very attentive, often praising me and giving me compliments. It was almost embarrassing! However, even in these early years of marriage, he often gave me mixed messages. On several occasions he would talk about other women who he found attractive. When I challenged him about it, he would always tell me how much he loved me and how I was his first priority, and not to be silly. Still, I was confused.
How it Started: Isolation
In the first 2 years of marriage and as a mother with a young baby, I remember very clearly him shouting at me in a very angry way. I remember how shocked and afraid I was. He looked at me with disapproval and condemnation. I knew he should never be doing that to his wife, but I decided to do what my mum had always taught me, to show love. Love would always win in the end. This was my first and biggest mistake.
After 2 years of marriage Mike applied for a job in America with the company he worked for. He got the job, and we went to live in the North West, far away from family and friends. Mike travelled considerably with his work, sometimes for 3 weeks at a time. I was very lonely, and missed my friends and family. I began to feel isolated and very dependent. I couldn’t work in America either.
How It Progressed: The Cycle
As time went by, Mike was often angry, and put more and more demands on me. Then he would change and become loving, and over attentive. I was very confused, and didn’t know who the real Mike was. I kept trying to show love, and I prayed often that God would help me to love Mike in spite of the anger.
Whilst in America we moved several times. Life was demanding with young children and a husband who travelled much of the time. I tried to be a good mother and wife, but it became increasingly difficult to please Mike. So much of what I did was wrong in his eyes. Packing the dishwasher, cooking the meals, buying the groceries……I was constantly reprimanded for getting it wrong.
I don’t remember the first time Mike hit me. It happened often, and it was always because I hadn’t pleased him in some way. He hit me, shouted at me, spat at me and kicked me. And I would just pray and pray that God would work to change him. We went to numerous counsellors, both in America and England. We spent hundreds of pounds, but nothing changed.