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Bound To Be FreeBreaking Free from Domestic Violence
By Marva J. Edwards
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Marva J. Edwards
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhere Am I?
In the midst of another argument over something so trivial, fear has gripped me once again. Suddenly I am hit in the face with such force that it spun me around (something I've only seen in the movies). I spun in what seemed to be extreme slow motion. I feel my body gradually falling to the floor, but I don't have the ability to stop myself from falling.
I have no idea how much time has passed, when I open my eyes. Where am I? It seems that I am somewhere other than at home, as my surroundings are unfamiliar to me. I'm panicked; I'm wondering where my children are. Does my mother know where I am? What is my telephone number? How did I get here in this bed? Feeling myself to be in a major state of confusion as to my immediate circumstances, I also feel incredible pain in my face; my head is throbbing intensely. I now realize that I am in a new place-we had just moved some days ago. I cannot say how long to be exact.
I'm extremely thirsty; needing a drink of water, I go into the kitchen to cure my thirst. On the way back from the kitchen, I peep in on my children, as I am wondering what's going on with them. Thank God they are each very much asleep. After returning to my bedroom, I began to drink the water, and now I am worried. As I drink from the glass, the water is running down my chin and my neck. I realize that something has to be wrong, because I never felt it leave my mouth. What does this mean? Before I can finish processing that, thought, I look up and there stands the preacher in the doorway. He's looking at me as though some small disagreement has occurred. He asked me, "Are you all right, honey?" Imagine that I almost hated him in that moment. I certainly did not like him; loving him as a wife was long gone. There was a struggle to love him even as a Christian. He's beaten me in my face and has hit me so hard in my head that I passed out. Yet he has the audacity to ask if I am all right. I never responded to him; his question was not worthy of a response. Surprisingly, he leaves me alone.
I am afraid, lonely, and greatly troubled, but who will hear my plea? Who will even help me? After all, I'm a preacher's wife. Sadly, it's not getting any better-it worsens with every single fight! I must find a way to get out of this living hell I am in!
Lord Jesus, help me. Please help me! I know that my children are not in a safe place; I also know that it is my responsibility to make them safe.
I have to figure out how I will explain a busted lip, a swollen face, and even the constant pain in my head. How will I explain this to my church family, and to my natural family? What in the world will my children think when they look into their mother's face? How will I keep the tears from streaming down my face? Surely my heart will ache when I look into their eyes, knowing that they see my physical pain. Lord God, please help me to leave this place. It's not a home at all!
At some point, my babysitter called my mother and told her what had happened. I know this because one day out of the blue, my mother and one of my sisters showed up at my house. The preacher was outside doing something to his car. I heard screaming and yelling. I ran to the front door, and to my surprise my mother and my sister were giving him a beating, and my mother dared him to touch her! She was yelling and telling him off in her own way! Mind you, he didn't do a thing. I just watched. A part of me was happy, and a part of me was sorrowful.
Chapter TwoRunning Scared
As I am preparing for tonight's church service, I have such expectancy for the move of God. I don't care how God shows up; I just need for him to show up for me. I'm extremely excited! I just believe God will help me where I am.
We arrived in Sanford a bit early for the service. The Prophet (the pastor of the church) has invited the preacher and me to come up to his office with him and his wife. We have a cold drink, and they have some conversation with each other. I continue to sit quietly. I have such an unsettling within myself. We all eventually go down to the sanctuary. Praise and worship were going on, and the music was wonderful. It was filled with God's anointing. The word of God was a blessing, and at the end the Prophet ministered to me. He said that the Lord told him that he had anointed me for ministry and that not everyone would be able to walk with me in ministry because of my life's struggles. He also told me that God was going to bless my hands to get wealth because he could trust me. I had mixed emotions-happy and afraid at the same time. Ministry and money? This means incredible challenges in many ways. What a great responsibility. I prayed that God will keep me humble.
We arrive back at the house from Sanford, and the hour is quite late. Our sitter and her husband have decided to stay for the night. The children are all asleep and in their beds.
Morning has come, and the drama has begun already. The preacher comes to me for money. The church he pastors cannot afford to pay him a salary. He does not have other employment, but depends on me. He expects to live off my children's child support, money that I make for doing hair on the side, and food stamps. Because I refuse to comply with his request to give him money and I question him about why he wants it, an argument breaks out. This leads to a physical fight with him despite my fear. Shortly thereafter I am running scared, in my nightgown and a pair of footies, and with the hammer in my hand-which I was somehow able to take from him before he was able to hit me with it. Thank God! I know that it was the grace of God that allowed me to take the hammer from him. Breath is seemingly not in my body, as I am gasping. I'm trying to run as fast as I can, yet it seems as though I am running in slow motion. It seems as though I can't get away fast enough, but I am too afraid to look back. I know it was only the grace of God that allowed me to get that hammer from him! Finally I've made it to Bessemer Avenue; this is only about a hundred yards away from the house. Yet it seemed to be so much farther. I have no thought for what I am wearing; I am just running scared. Oh, God, please help me. Don't let him catch me. I cannot look behind me. I make it to the Laundromat and store-this was about a mile or so. Thanks be to God, I see a sister from my home church. She sees me as well and allows me to get into her car and regroup. There's no sign of the preacher anywhere in sight. I am so relieved for the moment. However, I have to go back home at some point. This causes me to return with a greater sense of fear. I know that sooner or later when I least expect it, I will have to pay for this. I would have to pay for causing his violent behavior to be exposed and for allowing other people to know what goes on in his house, he would say.
I arrive at home scared as ever but trying to present a strong front. I never wanted him to know how afraid I really was. My children were at home waiting with the sitter. I'm sure they were wondering where I was and what was going on. They were still asleep when I got of the bed earlier while all of the arguing was going on. The sitter was very reluctant to leave me at home with the preacher. She needed to go home, so I told her not to worry about it. Little did I know that at some point she had told my mother about the fight; my mother in turn told my cousin and my brother. I'm afraid here, not knowing what to do or how to behave. I hope to avoid another confrontation, at least for today. It's becoming harder and harder to be successful at that. I feel as though I have a huge wound inside of me growing bigger and bigger all the time. I am starting to feel as though I'm losing my mind. I consider myself to be a strong person, but this is where I am. How can I protect the ministry and preserve the people? I really need someone that I can talk to-someone that I can really open up to. I have a friend, and I feel that I can trust her. My concern is her relationship with the preacher's brother. I am in a bad situation, though; I must take a chance and trust her. I have to trust someone to help me get me and my children through this, even if it is just in being helped to properly process my thoughts. I must get some help. I'm praying and talking with the Lord; I need some direction. I have even turned my plate down! I believe in God for deliverance and for the courage to leave. I am bound with fear, but I must be free. This isn't how it is supposed to be. Here I am a Christian woman, a pastor's wife; this cannot be for real. Scripture declares according to Ephesians 5:25, Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; this isn't the kind of love I get from the preacher. He seems to be filled with rage; we know that rage certainly doesn't come from God! It's really a time for me to pray like never before. Time for me to pray with all diligence and make my request known unto God. Of course he knows what I have need of even before I ask. It is my place to ask for what I need. I pray for the Lord's protection and for peace within myself that I may get through this.
Chapter ThreeRemembering the Red Flags
You know, as the old saying or proverb goes, hindsight is 20/20. I realize now, and I have known for some time that there were many red flags along the way. I have to say that either I overlooked them or I was too naïve to pay attention to them. It is so important that we pay attention to things along the way. We must remember that everything is a sign of something else. There is an old proverb that says what you see is what you get. What you see is oftentimes worse than what you get; that was certainly so in my case. Pay attention to the red flags in your life!
Some years ago when I met the preacher, he was charming and well-spoken, and he chose his words carefully. He was quite attentive. He knew what to say and also when to say it. The preacher sounded like one would expect a preacher to sound; he was well-dressed and presented himself as a gentleman. Red flag
I remember that on the first date I had with him, he stopped at the automatic teller machine off Summit Avenue. We were going to Libby Hill Seafood restaurant. We were right at the restaurant; however, he wanted to go the one on the other side of town. Red flag.
As we talked over dinner, I inquired about the church where he was the pastor and its location. He responded by telling me that it was in Siler City; however, he would be relocating to Greensboro as soon as he could. I cannot remember at this time his reasoning for making the transition. The preacher was often in Greensboro on Sunday mornings instead of in Siler City. I wondered why he was not ministering to his own congregation each Sunday. He had not invited me to attend worship services with him either. Red flags.
Months have gone by now, and I've fallen in my walk with God. I've become so self-engaged with my own loneliness, that I have allowed myself to become sexually involved with the preacher. I'm pregnant and feeling such enormous guilt. It wouldn't be too much to say that I'm devastated! Here I am having put myself in a situation of having another child without having been married-not even in a stable relationship. The preacher is spreading the news with such joy, and I'm still trying to forgive myself for having fallen from my place in God. Red flags.
Over a period of time-I'm not sure how long; maybe a couple of months had passed by-things seemed to have been getting better. Then I discovered that the car the preacher had been driving and leading me to believe was his, really wasn't. The car belonged to a deacon of his church. Since this discovery, he now has to transport the deacon to work and wherever it is he needs to go, and then return him to his said destination. Red flags.
Several weeks have gone by, and the preacher is now parking the car in what I call very strange places. He's parking up the street around the corner and sometimes in another parking lot in the complex. He justifies this by saying he doesn't want people all in his business. He states that he needs privacy just as everyone else does. He sounds so convincing. Red flags.
By now the deacon has been looking for the preacher in hopes of having his car returned. I realize this is in part why the preacher has been parking the car in strange places. So the preacher has been evading him all of this time. He would park at another unit where the parking was in the back of the unit and sometimes even around the corner. I can no longer deal with the constant lying, for the lies are more than I can number or even remember. We break up because of the constant arguing, lies, and my lack of trust in him. After the breakup, he says to me, "If I can't be with you, then I have nothing left to live for." Red flags.
He continued to talk of committing suicide. This made me feel a great sense of responsibility for trying to help him; I feel that I must find some way to help him. I'm feeling stuck! I'm in and out of this relationship; it's off and on again and again. I'm feeling guilty because of the preacher's depression and his talking of committing suicide each time he thinks I may break up with him. The thought of the preacher taking his life because of me is a burden I don't wish to live with. It's difficult to stay away from him. He seems to be so involved in my life. I'm feeling overwhelmed. The preacher calls all the time from morning until night. Then at other times, he just shows up with no warning. Red flags.
I'm sinking and getting farther and farther away from God. My neighbor who is also my friend has become a much-needed support for me. As I talk more freely with my neighbor, he tells me, "This guy is crazy. Are you sure he's a preacher? Something is wrong with him."
Today is the Fourth of July. My eldest brother and his girlfriend have decided to take my two girls with them to see the fireworks after the Fun Fourth festivities are over. My son and I return home, and it is late. At about 11:00 PM, my doorbell rang. I'm startled because of the lateness of the hour. I go to the window and ask who's at the door. It happens to be the preacher's sister. What could she possibly want this time of night?! She said, "Girl, I need to talk to you. It's an emergency!" I open the door, and she suddenly announces that she has to go lock her car door. I must say I was quite concerned, because this girl usually doesn't even talk to me. We don't even have that type of relationship for her to be coming to my apartment. I assume she went on to her car, but when she returned she had another female with her. She looked somewhat familiar to me. She was tall and very stocky-what my mother would call a country build. They sit down and began to snicker. At this point I know something is wrong. I'm just over five months pregnant, and this situation is making me quite nervous. I'm sitting on the sofa, and they are sitting on the love seat. They appear to be high. My son has gotten up out of bed, so I go to get him back down. As I sit back down, the other female asks me why I have been cheating on her cousin.
I responded by saying, "I'm not cheating on anyone because I don't have anyone, and who am I supposed to be cheating with?"
She named the guy she was talking about and said, "That's who." Just then I knew that she was about to get up. As I began to get up, she rushed toward me from across the room. She hit me in the face, and I fell over on the end table. I thought I needed something to help me defend and protect myself. I went into the kitchen, remembering quickly that I don't even keep very sharp knives in the kitchen because of the children. I grabbed the hammer out of the drawer and ran back into the living room. They were still there (it must have been the drugs they were on). As they saw me coming with the hammer in my hand, the preacher's sister got up first to escape through the front door, and the other female, who had hit me, was following quickly behind her. The other female fell as she was going out, and I hit her in the back with the hammer. I raised the hammer again, with the thought of busting her head wide open. I could have easily hit her again, because she was moving slowly. I was angry and in survival mode, but I could not allow myself to hurt her in that way, despite what had been done to me. I just held the hammer in the air as she looked straight into my eyes. God's mercy was with both of us, and to him be the glory. She got up and ran around the back side of the apartment.
Excerpted from Bound To Be Free by Marva J. Edwards Copyright © 2010 by Marva J. Edwards. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Where Am I?....................1
Chapter 2. Running Scared....................5
Chapter 3. Remembering the Red Flags....................9
Chapter 4. True Colors....................19
Chapter 5. Covered Wounds....................27
Chapter 6. Bracing for Battle....................31
Chapter 7. Making Another Exit!....................35
Chapter 8. Taking a Stand....................41
Chapter 9. A Collective View....................53
Chapter 10. Hurt People Hurt People!....................67
Chapter 11. The Power of Abuse!....................71
Chapter 12. Bound to Be Free....................79
Chapter 13. Generational Curses....................93
Chapter 14. Characteristics of Abusers....................105