Oh, did I type that outloud?
Trying to navigate the whole ordeal was beyond “stressful”. She had never felt such anxiety. Her heart literally hurt from the weight of it all.
The horrible night’s sleep didn’t help either… The massive number of women packed like sardines into one room at that shelter… the crying kids…
Including her own.
Thank God her mother set aside her anger towards her long enough to watch the kids – today…
“We told you not to marry him,” her mother declared.
She could just picture her eyes of fury… the wagging head… as she took the phone away from her ear.
“You knew he had a temper! What on earth did you do that set him off?!”
“Mom… I just need a place to stay for a few – “
“We can’t!” Her mother declared. “It’s just too much!”
“I understand,” she replied.
After all, the last time she left him and stayed with her parents it was truly dreadful. When the beatings on the door proved to no avail at getting anyone to respond to his rants, he took to circling the house, honking, yelling, letting the whole neighborhood know what he thought of her… and her family. The children were too frightened to even leave the house for school the next morning – and she certainly wasn’t going to force them to go.
she agreed, “It is too much.”
After calling her pastor and the counseling department, she finally got a list of shelters from a local Christian women’s resource center – and she started calling…
“No, I’m sorry, we’re full, have you tried….”
Was the continuous response – with each phone call and rejection taking her farther and farther away from the inner circle of the city to the outskirts of town…
But she finally found some space.
“We are less restricted here,” said the woman on the other end of the line… “We’re away out in the boonies… but that keeps you even safer right! And we have some room – but it will be a little cramped.”
At this point she didn’t care, she was down to her final few hours until he arrived home from work and she had to get out.
He had taken the keys to her car… and her cell phone – again. Thank God for neighbors with landlines and Uber! Especially since the police said they couldn’t help unless she had injuries and her “friends” at church didn’t want to get “in the middle” of it all…
Thank God there was room at the shelter… even though it was two hours away… and temporary.
But today, the real nightmare was just about to begin…
As she got out of the car, she began to worry – “Will he be in the parking lot? What if he arrives at the same time as me?”
The butterflies in her stomach churned… she felt nauseous.
She reached into the car to retrieve her purse, the files, filed with the documentation of the events – that she could remember, anyway…
Thank goodness for the other women at the shelter who informed her that she needed documentation if she was going to have any leg to stand on when she went to court…
“I hope these are enough,” she thought.
Just then the new-used burner phone that the shelter gave her rang – it was her employer.
“Oh lordy…” she thought. “Here it comes…”
She closed her eyes and braced herself. They were calling with regard to the message she had left with the Human Resources Department yesterday… needing another couple of personal days….
“Ms. Doe,” said the voice on the other end…
“Yes, ma’am.” She politely responded.
“I got your message… can you tell me a little bit more about what is going on?”
“Seriously.” She thought… “Do I have to tell her?”
Again, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath….
“I had an emergency situation arise and I just – “
But she was cut off…
“That seems to be a pattern for you Ms. Doe. I’m afraid that we simply cannot afford to have our employees missing so much time off…”
“I don’t mean to be a burden,” she whispered, “it’s a domestic violence situation… But I’m safe now, I just have to be in court this morning and I need register my children for their new school tomorrow. Plus,” she added, “I do have personal days”.
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you and your children fair well… But, I have to inform you that personal days must be scheduled in advance… especially right now, after all, it’s flu season, and we have a lot of employees out sick – “
“I’m afraid that if you can’t make it in today – we will have to find someone who can.”
Tears filled her eyes and fear, once again, gripped her soul as she envisioned a future for her children with no shelter, no car, no food… and no money to make it happen.
There was really nothing more to say… she just flipped the top of the phone and it shut off.
As she made her way towards the large, ornate building – she felt a sudden terror of intimidation. Panic encompassed her soul and her legs refused to move.
“Perfect love casts out fear,” she told herself. “God’s got this…” she murmured, trying to reassure herself that the fear would subside, and she will become “strong and courageous,” just like her pastoral counselor had informed her.
But it wasn’t working.
She forced her legs to take one step at a time – but there were just so many steps… She glanced up to the top of the stairs, the columns on the building stared back at her – so big… so bold.
“Why can’t my faith be like that,” She asked God. “Please give me your strength!” she pleaded.
Making her way through security was traumatic. She constantly looked over her shoulder, sure that he would walk through the gigantic glass doors at any moment.
Again, anguish raced through her blood.
“What if I was wrong?” she suddenly thought – “I haven’t always been the good wife… impatient, unloving… even unkind at times…”
“Maybe I should have tried harder… after all, he did start going to church with us the last time I left… for a while anyway.”
“Arms out…. turn around,” The voice of the well-armed officer startled her back to task – and she complied.
Her “thank you” and smile fell on deaf ears and a hardened face, too busy to deal with the emotions that walked through the doors of this massive, intimidating, dreary filled… and cold, very cold, building.
The building where wars are fought, lives destroyed, and sometimes justice prevails.
She walked down the long, bleak hallway towards the courtrooms – “Surely he is here by now, she thought… If I could just know where he was at… maybe, then I could just calm down…”
“God help me! There are so many rooms… How will I ever find the right…”
But, she was stopped in mid-distress by a tall, grey haired, man in a very expensive suit. “Are you Jane Doe?” He stated.
It wasn’t a question… No, it was definitely a statement.
“Good. We need to talk before we enter the court room,” he demanded. And without a response – he went on to explain how “things were going to go in court today…”
But he wasn’t a court official.
He was not her advocate…
He was not her attorney…
He was not her pastor, her pastoral counselor, he was not someone from the shelter or the women’s resource center….
“And one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (James 2:16).
Nope…. Mr. intimidation was his attorney. The defense attorney. The abuser’s attorney.
She stood stunned, confused, and quite literally, scared to death – All while her heart pleaded with the Lord once again… “What do I do? What do I have to do?”
But all she could hear was the attorney’s demands.
“I need to know where you are living now… We have to have a means of communication with you – so let’s start with your phone number and address…”
“What!” She thought – “There’s no way! I have a protected address… and he is certainly not getting my new phone number!” God, she asked, “Do I have to answer him? Will the judge think I’m being uncooperative? I’m just trying to be safe!”
And as the intimidating figure leaned in for her response – she slowly turned around as she backed away…
But as she turned, she saw him.
Terror gripped her heart and her knees began to wobble – It felt like the ground would give way – as with every step closer to her – it sounded like thunder each time his foot hit the hard, concrete, echoing, floor.
Her life with him flashed quickly before her – every “personal day” she had taken was a day recovering from him… Every frustrating word her mother spoke to her was a result of a helpless, grieving mother and grandmother watching her babies suffer the abuse of an out-of-control, Scripture-twisting, self-absorbed, narcissistic psychopath.
Eventually he alienated her from friends and family –
And the posts on Face Book and Twitter – covert in nature – but they got his point across… life with her was the epitome of “a dripping faucet…” Then there were the phone calls to family, friends… the pastor…. The weeping, sorrowful…. victim that he portrayed himself to be…
“He is so repentant….” her mother said. “You really need to understand forgiveness,” her pastor commanded… “You really need to get some counseling,” her friends said… “you’re so unhappy and sad… it’s obviously affecting your marriage.”
So, she complied…. and for a while, so did he.
But like any typical psychopath, it didn’t last – and she had reached her breaking point… Things were escalating – not only was the belittling growing more violent – and threatening, now it was done as he stood, towering over her, toe-to-toe, pressing his chest up against hers… careful not to touch her. He taken her credit cards and removed her name from all the accounts. He even took the keys to her car on some days – and she couldn’t go to work… The worst part, as if it could get any worse – is that the children were beginning to act just like him – every time she tried to be a “mother” – they would lash out and call her “crazy,” or “stupid.”
As he walked toward her, making his way to his bull-dog attorney – he couldn’t help but grin as he ever-so-slightly, brushed against her as he passed by.
She shuddered. And trying to see through the tears, she sought out a quiet place to sit until they called her into the courtroom. But all she wanted to do was run–
This is the day that victims of domestic violence dread. Although there are many resources available – that help the victim to get to safety, even some that provide shelter – nothing prepares the victim for her day in court.
From the parking lot to the court room – Intimidation is followed by fear that leads to panic.
And victims should panic.
Over 85% of all domestic violence homicides occur when victims leave their abuser.
Christian counselors, pastors, even psychologists are not trained in the American Justice system- Some have never stepped foot into a court room – let alone understand the differences in the civil system vs. the criminal system – let alone, what the victim actually has to endure.
But what is even more tragic – is that they don’t want to be trained in it either.
There are laws in place to protect victims from their jobs and their personal property. There are companies and individuals who provide victims of domestic violence with transportation and attorneys. And there are emergency orders that can be obtained by a judge.
But most victims – especially Christian victims of domestic violence – do not know that these options are available to them. The do not know anyone who is trained in the judicial system – or domestic violence – especially anyone at their own church.
In most situations, Christian victims will return to church with their abuser not only welcomed in by their clergy, but he will deliberately sit in the row behind her.
Pastors invite the offender in their offices for coffee and a men’s prayer breakfast, as they “love” on him. While victims are sent to counseling and told that their “husbands will be won over… by the silence and obedience of their wives.”
Worst-case-scenario – the church sends them to “marriage counseling” … together!
Attorneys who do not specialize in domestic violence, work hard to get the case over with – in hopes of securing full payment rather than just their retainer – develop nothing short of a bromance/girl-crush with the defense attorney to quickly “make a deal.”
Victims walk away frustrated, confused, and… angry. Some never step foot back into a church again. Some even return to their abuser – for lack of any other “Christian” option.
Children from these homes are emotionally abandoned, used as pons, and 1500 times more likely to become abused/abusers themselves.
But the church has the power to change all of it.
To reverse the trend – and change the world.
Because we have what no other domestic violence program has to offer –
AND we also have Jesus’ commands to His people –
Without fear. We fear not – because we have the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill those commands – and with that power, we can provide hands-on strength and courage to the victim, accountability to the justice system, and truth to the church…
And discipline to the offender.
It is imperative that the victim has someone walking – literally walking with them – through this myriad of abuse – not just the abuse of the offender – but the further abuses of the justice system – and even their own (church) friends and family.
Redemption. Restoration. Recovery. (R3) Domestic Violence Services and Training – provides the only Christ-centered domestic violence training program for those who desire to become service providers. Fulfilling the call to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” Training to give confidence when traversing through the terrifying “day(s) in court” to our advocates, as well as a national network of Christian resources and referrals.
This training is for those who want to do more than to “send them on their way, with nothing,” even though, “they have it to give to them.”
We can do more than give our victims Scripture to memorize – we can go to court with them – and demonstrate the Scripture – by walking that “second mile” with them.
R3 DV service provider training is for those who want to show the victim where real hope begins.
This scenario is based on fictional characters – that are, however, based on actual characteristics of situations, individuals, and circumstances, that we have personally witnessed in our own lives, and the lives of our clients, judicial system, attorneys, and even – the church.
From thirty-years ago – when our journey into the field of domestic violence began, until now, absolutely nothing has changed.
If you and/or your church would like to become a domestic violence service provider – we have the training, the tools, the curriculum for support groups, court-mandated classes, and offenders. We also provide you with a national network of attorneys, shelter services, resources and referrals.
R3 is available for speaking, education, and awareness events and conferences.
R3 is a product of Cross Strength Ministries, and is a 501c3 non-profit, Christ-centered, Bible believing, Jesus only – Evangelistic ministry.
If you would like to be a part of this mission – or would like to donate to this mission, please click on this link.
If you think you might be a victim or know someone who is – Please view our Danger Assessment.