God sees you. We see you. You are loved.
You’ve lived in hell. You’ve tried. You’ve cried. The rages, the blaming, the criticism, the threats, the hits. You lived through it all, and you did everything you could to make it better. You did everything to keep him calm, keep him happy. But it’s not your fault. There’s nothing else you could have done.
We see you. We believe you.
And now life looks different. You’re shattered, you’re changed. This whole chapter is all part of your story now, even though you never wanted it.
So many people at your church, tragically, won’t understand. You’ve been through the unimaginable; that’s why they can’t imagine it. Educate them if you have the strength and opportunity, but otherwise just walk away and hand them to God. They know not what they do.
You will lose friends. Some will side with your abuser. Some will pretend everything’s fine. Some will treat you and your abuser as equally responsible. Some will say stupid things. Some people will just never get it. Some will give you a hard time for leaving. They’re not your people.
Come find the other abuse survivors in your church. Or even better, they’ll come find you. They get it. They’ll catch you. And they’ll show up in ways you never dared to dream. Find your soul sister friends. The ones who love you without judgment, no questions asked. They’re your people. Reduce your circles for a while. Curl up with those who’ll comfort you. Everyone else can wait. You only need to tell your story to those who can hold it safely.
Your understanding of Jesus is probably damaged, especially if spiritual abuse is part of what happened to you. You might have started to believe that God’s love is conditional, cold, or painful. It’s not. It’ll take time, but you can find Jesus again. He’s still there. He’s still good.
If you cannot bring yourself to pray, that’s ok. If you cannot get yourself to church, that’s ok. If reading the bible triggers you, you’re allowed to take a break. If you had a broken leg, you wouldn’t be expected to run. Since you have a broken relationship, you shouldn’t be expected to relate. This is a season that looks different to any other season. You have injuries that need tending before life finds a new normal.
Take care of yourself. Rest. Eat. Sleep. Cry. Watch movies. Sit by a fire. Sit by a river. Read stories. Walk. Swim. Snuggle up warm. Drink tea. Journal.
You’ll be hyper-sensitive to new and painful things now: raised voices, threatening stares, power plays. You’ll recognize control and misuse of authority way before anyone else. Trust your gut. You’ve become very good at identifying abuse.
You’re conditioned differently now too. You’ve been conditioned to think it’s all your fault, to think you’re responsible for everything. You’re not. You’ve been conditioned to think that love hurts. It doesn’t. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
It will get better. You will get stronger. Things will make sense again. Freedom awaits. And the path to freedom that God has laid for you is lined by sisters holding torches that light the way. For you.
When you’re ready, this is the new identity you can step in to:
You are a survivor.
You have suffered and you made it through.
You are loved.
You are loved by God, and you are loved by so many people around you.
In time, you will feel better, stronger, and safer.
We know this is who you are, even if you don’t yet. We’ll hold this identity for you, and keep it safe till you’re ready to put it on.
Jesus came for you, dear one. He came to get you. He came to rescue you and take you to safety. He came to bind up your broken heart and set you free from captivity. He came to destroy the powers that hurt you.
Jesus said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16.33
Rest now, dear one.
* Download this letter as a PDF here
This letter was written by Kylie Maddox Pidgeon with the help of the FHE contributor team.
Kylie is a Christian Psychologist whose client demographic includes perpetrators and survivors of Family Violence. Kylie is a graduate of SMBC.