Tuesday, July 27, 2010


The Lord is close to the broken hearted. He rescues those who are crushed in Spirit. -Psalm 34:18

A little over a year ago, when I was still blogging on Myspace, I wrote an entry that I entitled "Broken Glass." During that time, I felt battered to pieces by my impending divorce, a love that I felt for someone else who was inaccessible, and the pain for having failed in my marriage. I was on my way to work that morning in April of 2009, when I had an image come into my mind of a huge heap of broken glass. It was crushed to tiny pieces, but there was beauty in that brokenness; the glass sparkled and cast rainbows of light all around. Then a rough pair of hands appeared and the glass was being reformed. In my head, I heard a voice say, "Behold, I make all things new."

Glass is brittle, it breaks easily. But even from the pieces, something wonderful can be salvaged. This gave me the courage to go on. Whenever I felt crushed, I would imagine the hands of the Maker, taking the splintered pieces and reshaping them into something beautiful and useful. And of course, I knew that the process would be hard, slow, and painful. Here I am, over a year later, and I find myself broken anew. Is there still comfort in that image of the Maker's hands remaking me? Yes. But I know how glass is shaped -- it is a process of intense heat, melting, and remoulding.

Yesterday, I received notice that my abuser has appealed the Order of Protection. According to my attorney, this means a de novo hearing; one in which the slate is wiped clean and we proceed as if no other hearing had taken place. That means another couple of hours on the witness stand, being grilled and verbally battered by his attorney. After the last hearing, I said that this process felt like another rape. And now I have to go back and submit to that again.

I know that I have to do this. I know all the various reasons why it's important and I know that it isn't just about me. My abuser happens to also be a pastor in the United Methodist Church, and it was through that role that he became a part of my life, and was able to get close to me and do me so much harm. I know that I have a responsibility to the others whose lives he will touch and destroy. I don't want anyone else to have to suffer what I've suffered. I know all these things. But I confess that at this moment, I am broken, and I don't know if I have the strength to be remade. I don't know if I have the courage to go back through the fire.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Power and Control

Have you ever just sat down and thought about why someone would choose to abuse another person? I’ve wondered about it for a while now. I have trouble fathoming why anyone would want to cause another person physical or emotional harm, especially when they profess to love that person. I’ve heard the desire to abuse referred to as a sickness, and I sometimes wonder if that’s correct. It would seem to make sense in a way, wouldn’t it? This compulsion to harm might be something that the abuser can’t control.

But wait a minute. Does that really make sense? Think about it. Abusers don’t harm everyone they meet. They usually only harm the people closest to them; their girlfriends or boyfriends, their children, their wives or husbands. If the desire to abuse is a sickness, then wouldn’t it follow that it would be uncontrollable, that the compulsion to abuse would be the same across the board? The abuser would walk down the hall at work the same way he walks down the hall at home; punching walls, screaming, and finally kicking the office manager before he enters his office and subjects his boss to a pointed, biting tirade including all the mistakes she’s made in the last year. I think we need to let go of the idea that people who abuse do it because they’re sick or because they can't control themselves. Holding onto the image of the out-of-control abuser only absolves him or her of taking personal responsibility for bad behavior and gives a free pass to abuse again and again.

Abuse is all about control. An abuser can blow through the house like a hurricane, slamming everything in his path, but let the neighbor knock on the door and he's all smiles, totally in control -- because the truth is, he's in control the entire time. Abuse is about the abuser’s need to feel bigger, stronger, smarter, better than his victim. Imagine the following scenario. A woman is getting ready for a test the next morning. Her boyfriend asks her to come over but she tells him she has to study. He insists that she come because he doesn’t want to spend the evening alone. She gives in because she knows if she doesn’t she won’t hear the end of it for weeks. But she also brings along her book because it is important to her that she pass her test. She sits and studies while he sits and drinks. He is getting more enraged as she tries to concentrate on the coursework. By 11 pm, when she finally sets aside the book, he is fuming. Throughout the night, he’s done a bit of everything to get her attention, from shouting, to stripping, to accusing her of not caring about him anymore, but she has done her best to remain focused on her work and ignore his ranting. She is tired and has to be up early, but he insists that she watch porn with him and then have sex before she can go to bed. Does this sound ridiculous to you? Well, that’s because it is ridiculous. It’s also abuse, and it was planned. The point is not to get her attention, though that’s a nice byproduct of the childish behavior. The point is that she will not be allowed to prepare for her test; her failure the following morning will be extremely gratifying to this little man, who can’t bear to think that she might have a life of her own, intelligence of her own, and prospects of her own. But the story doesn’t end there – there’s more to it than that, because abusers are rarely satisfied, even when they get their own way.

The woman says she isn’t interested in being intimate. She’s tired and needs to sleep – her test site is an hour away and she has to be up by 6 the next morning. He doesn’t care and insists that she comply with his wishes. If she doesn’t put out, he says he’ll drive out and find someone who will. Well, he’s drunk, and of course that means driving drunk; she points this out but he insists that he doesn’t care. If he hurts someone else it’ll be her fault. And if he gets picked up for a DUI then that’s her fault too. She’s heard this before and has given in before; she remembers the revulsion and self-hatred that come afterward and isn’t eager to go through that again, though she knows she can’t let him drive drunk. But this time, instead of begging him to change his mind, saying, “please, not like this,” something snaps. She tells him she’ll call the police and report him if he walks out the door. He can sleep it off in the drunk-tank.

Suddenly he is raging, screaming at her, calling her a whore and telling her she ruined his life, but she doesn’t care. She gets up, picks up her purse and keys and says, “I’m through. I’m done. This is over and I won’t be coming back.” And on the way out the door she tells him a few home truths about his behavior and what he can do with it. Before he can get to her, she’s out the door and gone. And he doesn’t follow, because he’s already naked – he stripped about an hour ago while he was still trying to get her to drop the studying and have sex with him. She goes home and goes to bed, but has only been asleep for an hour when he starts calling. At first she ignores the phone, but it continues to ring. She can’t turn it off because her children are with their father – her ex-husband – and one of them has a medical condition; she needs to be available by phone. Finally, after an hour of listening to the phone ring, she answers it. He says he hates her. He says she’s an evil bitch. He says she’ll come crawling back the way she always does but that he isn’t going to be there. He’s going to find someone else. She says she doesn’t care, she isn’t going to hang around and take his abuse anymore, and she hangs up. Two hours later, she’s just gotten back to sleep when he calls again. This time he’s choking and gagging, says he’s terribly sick and thinks he’s dying. She holds firm with her anger, but after talking to him for a few moments, she decides she should go check on him. He did drink a lot and even though she doesn’t want to be with him anymore, she doesn’t want him to die of alcohol poisoning either. Before they get off the phone, he stops talking and she wonders if he’s passed out as she puts on her jeans and a coat and heads for the door.

At his house, she finds him in the bathroom. He’s throwing up. She waits for him to finish and then sits down on the sofa. He lies down with his head in her lap and goes to sleep. In an hour she has to leave for her test; she’s gotten about two hours of sleep total – but that’s nothing new. It has been three months since he allowed her to sleep for more than five hours a night. She doesn’t go to sleep and she doesn’t touch him. She just sits there, trapped. At six, she gets up, heads home, and takes a shower. She’s on the road in an hour and sitting for the exam. On her way home, he calls her to tell her he feels terrible; he is extremely contrite and blames his behavior on the alcohol and his “loneliness”; he says she knows how much he loves her and enjoys their evenings together. She isn’t buying it anymore, but doesn’t argue. She is just so tired that at this point, it doesn’t matter. He begs her to “come home”, and she does, mostly because the weeks of emotional abuse have worn her down so far that she just can't fight him anymore. That afternoon, she receives word that she passed her test, in spite of the late night and lack of studying. When she tells him the news, he stares at her for a moment and says, “They probably made a mistake grading it or you got really lucky. There’s no way you’re that smart.”

Control. Power over the other person. The need to feel bigger, smarter, better than the victim. That’s what abuse is about. And if you’re wondering if something like that could ever happen in real life, rest assured, it could. It did; it happened to me.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Little Victories

"God is in the midst of her; he will not allow her to be moved." 
~ Psalm 46 (NKJV)

Tuesday, July 13th, was the date of my hearing. I had been working toward and preparing for that day since May 28th, the day I filed for my order of protection from my abuser. I had been re-reading my journal - though my memory of what he had done to me didn't really need refreshing. I searched through months of phone records and painstakingly marked each call that occurred after the day I'd left him, when I’d asked him not to be in contact with me again. I spoke with co-workers until I found one who'd seen and recognized his car in the parking lot at work on several different occasions - two of those times, he had actually seen my abuser driving the car and was willing to testify to that in court. I wracked my brain to think of anyone I knew who might have seen me with bruises and cuts on my face and then remembered that my ex-husband had commented on the injuries when I'd picked up my daughters, less than 20 hours after the last incident had occurred. He agreed to testify also. I spent time on the phone with my Legal Aid attorney discussing what had happened and I sent her a copy of the incident log I had kept after the second time I saw him near where I worked. A week after my abuser was served, he and his lawyer offered the compromise of a "mutual restraining order", which I declined. Not only are such orders not found on any law books, but they are also difficult to enforce, since they assume a level playing field with abuse and harm on both sides. A friend who used to be a police officer warned me against agreeing, saying that the police wouldn't know who to believe if I called and reported a violation, unless they arrived on the scene and found me bleeding. I had already made up my mind not to accept their compromise; I did not do anything to harm my abuser and I was not going to say I had. My abuser had hired a private investigator who was calling friends and acquaintances from my hometown, trying to dig up things they could use against me. I felt violated.

In the run-up to the hearing, I admit that I didn't sleep well. I wasn't able to eat much, either, and as a result I felt tired and sick all the time. The night of July 12th was especially difficult, as I only slept for about three hours, and then spent the rest of the night wondering what in the world his attorney was going to try to do, what they could possibly use against me, and what lies my abuser might tell. I already knew my abuser to be unscrupulous and cruel; it seemed as if his attorney might be the same way. When I declined their offer of a mutual restraining order, my abuser’s attorney told my lawyer that he would “tear me apart on the witness stand”. Having already been torn apart by my abuser, I could only imagine how difficult it would be to face what his attorney would say to and about me.

Throughout the time between filing for the protective order and the day of the hearing, I often prayed. Sometimes, words wouldn't come, and I just sent my fears and hurts to God rather than sending supplications. I didn't know what to ask for, anyway. During my long, sleepless night on the 12th, I prayed that God's will would be done the next day, and that no matter what the outcome, I hoped that his Spirit and presence would be with me. It was all I felt I could ask for.

The morning of the 13th arrived and I was exhausted. I thank God for the support of my ex-husband, and my friends and co-workers who sat with me in the courtroom and offered their protection and their love. At different times during the day, they held my hand or put themselves between me and my abuser so he couldn’t watch me. Seeing him again was indescribably awful. His attorney pushed him to sit right next to me, but my friends would not allow it; instead, he sat nearby, behind me. After she realized what had happened, my attorney came over and said it would be okay if I moved, so we changed to the other side of the courtroom. There were so many cases being heard that day that we ended up having to return in the afternoon; even though I was scheduled to be heard at 9 am, it was 2 pm before we were sworn in and I had to take the witness stand.

If I had to describe the process of being grilled by a hostile man while the person who had hit and sexually assaulted me watched, I’d say it was like being raped all over again. He made terrible accusations – said I had been drunk and had hit my abuser, that I was the one who had committed assault. He said that I was a liar and untrustworthy. He tried to make the judge believe that I am mentally unstable and have a terrible temper -- to try to prove this, he brought out a two-inch thick sheaf of papers that were print-outs of my Facebook entries going all the way back to November 2009. There was no facet of my life that they left unexamined. He said that I was only doing this to hurt my abuser because I was angry that he had left me -- totally untrue, as I was the one who ended the relationship. I answered all his questions truthfully, even the ones that made me sick, the ones that meant admitting that I had done things I wasn’t proud of. But I had sworn to tell the truth, and I told the truth. I was on the stand for an hour, and during that time, I had to read aloud letters that I had written that were glowing character references for the man who had beaten and sexually assaulted me. The words tasted as bitter as ashes and they sickened me; my body shook and my voice trembled. Finally I was allowed to stop, and my witnesses were called. They told the truth also, and I was proud of the way they answered affirmatively without hesitating when the judge asked if they thought I was honest and trustworthy, especially my ex-husband. After they finished, it was my abuser’s turn to be questioned.

The sound of his voice cut me to pieces. I put my head down and tried to cover my ears. I couldn’t bear to look at him and it was easy to close my eyes, but it was impossible to shut out his words and the things he said and the lies he told. When my attorney cross examined him, he began to stumble, and that is when his lies started to catch up with him. Among other things, his denial of having called me after January 2nd was easily disproved by a quick glance through my telephone records. His insistence that he had only visited my workplace because of the Christian bookstore located there was shot down by his own witness, who happily admitted that they often went to the bookstore together; when asked which bookstore, she told the court they visited Books-a-Million and that he always bought Christian devotionals there. In the end, the judge granted my order. I won.

Maybe I should have cheered, but all I could do was sit there and cry. I can’t describe the relief I felt, but I also felt so broken. Smiles and celebrations came later, but at that moment when the judge said I had proved my character and honesty and my abuser had not, all I could do was put my face in my hands and let the tears roll. I don’t know how my abuser reacted, and truthfully, I don’t care. In the grand scheme of things, it just doesn’t matter. Right now, several days later, I am certain he is raging, thinking of me and what he can do to get revenge. I know him very well and I know the way he thinks. He doesn’t just let go of things. I understand that the order of protection is just a piece of paper – it might make it easier for the police to understand the situation if they are ever called to respond, but it doesn’t really protect me. In the end, I am the only one who can really physically protect me, no matter where I am or who I’m with.

I still don’t know what’s going to happen. I suppose he can appeal the decision, which will mean another day of hell in the same room with the man who sexually and physically assaulted me. Or he might try another tactic to get even. He’s threatened that kind of thing before, too. Either way, I’ll just have to be as strong as I can and get through it the best way I can. Sometimes we lose - my experience with this man was one of those times. But sometimes we win - and even when the victories are small, they are meaningful. Sure, it would have been better if I had reported his abuse at the time. It would have been smarter, and he would have faced criminal prosecution. I made a choice not to report, and I regret that choice more than I can say. Another loss for me, another victory for him. Most of our relationship was that way - and he seemed to feel most victorious when he was able to cause me pain.

On Tuesday, July 13, I experienced a little victory. God was with me, he did not allow me to be moved.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Courage Under Fire

I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. ~ Philipians 4:13

Tomorrow is the hearing date for my Order of Protection from my abuser. I fully expect that the day will hold horrors. Not only will I have to face this man -- wait, MAN isn't the right word; MEN do not abuse. Real MEN have no need to build themselves up through tearing others apart. Not only will I have to face my abuser, but I will be forced to relive moments of my life that cause me great pain. There can be no justice in this unless he is exposed for what he is.

I am working to cultivate the attitude of Paul, who welcomed suffering if it advanced the cause of Christ. I know that God wants me to be strong enough to expose this person's real nature, so that he may not easily harm others. And I know that God will give me strength.

The following psalm is one that always strengthens me -- I am glad to be able to take comfort in it again. Bolded comments are mine.

Psalm 121 (NKJV)

1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth. (The creator of the Universe will be with me)

3 He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep. (He will be watchful and will protect me)

5 The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night. (I can trust his protection regardless of what happens)

7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.

8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore. (No matter what, God is my GOD, my strength, my joy)

And here is my favorite psalm, one I return to over and over. I will carry it in my heart tomorrow.

Psalm 46 (NKJV)

1 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; (Fear is the opposite of love - I will love my enemies, not fear them -- Love conquers everything)

3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.

5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. (God is in the midst of me and will not allow me to be moved, no matter what happens - Whether I win or lose, God will be there)

6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has made desolations in the earth.

9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire. (There is nothing and no one that God cannot control - he will defeat my enemy here or hereafter)

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth! (God will be glorified through my actions)

11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

The Lord of Hosts is with me - the same God who brought the Hebrews out of Egypt is with me - the God of Abraham is with me - the Great I Am is with me - the Good Shepherd, the Alpha and Omega, He Who Is and Will Ever Be is with me.
I will not fear - I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rejecting Fear

The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
~ Nelson Mandela

I am – quite understandably – afraid of my abuser. I have reason to be. After he hit me and threatened to kill me I suppose I’d be crazy not to fear. I’ve been told by multiple people that fear is a healthy reaction to the danger I’ve experienced. I understand this. I also understand that the extent of my numbness during his assaults was an indication of how terrible the emotional and psychological abuse he’d put me through actually was. Though I was afraid while he was screaming and throwing things, and though I felt fear while he was battering me and threatening me, and though I felt total revulsion during his sexual assaults, it was mild in comparison to the strength of the horror I feel when remembering those episodes. Escaping the situation and having distance from it has allowed for some healing, which has made me more able to understand my feelings and to truly experience the fear – fear for my physical and emotional safety, fear for my children, and fear for my life. Like anger, fear can be a powerful motivator. It can enable you to protect yourself. It certainly had that effect for me! But if we give fear free-reign over our lives, it becomes debilitating.

Let me describe the situation I’m currently in. Next Tuesday, I will have to sit in a courtroom and face my abuser. He and his lawyer will no doubt do everything they can to discredit me, to make me look like a liar, and to cause me pain. I dread this upcoming emotional abuse more than I can express. I am – admittedly – afraid of what’s going to happen. Yesterday, the dread was so strong that it was almost like a living creature inside my body. I felt as if there was something inside me, tearing at me, trying to break free. I was in a state of near-panic. I tried to pray but I couldn’t concentrate. I tried burying myself in other tasks but the fear kept bleeding through. Finally, last night at around 10, I received an email from my new love, in response to some comments expressing my anxiety that I had sent him earlier in the day. His first words were, “Breathe, Honey, it’ll be okay.” So I took a deep breath, and then another, and in slowing down to feel the air move into and out of my body, I was able to reconnect with my inmost calm. I was able to pray, and I was reminded of Revelation 1:17, which says in part, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.”

There is such power in those words. Think of it. “The First and the Last.” He was there in the beginning. He will be there in the end. Everything that happens in between can be endured so much more easily when remembering those two points. God was with me when I was formed – he has been with me all my life. Even during the abuse, he was there, offering his comfort, bringing into my life people who helped me to understand my danger and conquer my apathy so that I could escape. He will be with me the day I die, no matter what the circumstances, and he will welcome me home when it is time for that journey. And most importantly right now, he will be with me in the courtroom on Tuesday when I face my abuser.

Why should I continue to fear? I don’t have to fight this battle alone. God is with me – and he has sent me supporters, a lover, and friends to shore me up. Yes, I have reason to be afraid of the man who hurt me and threatened my life. A certain amount of alarm is healthy and normal. But I will not allow it to debilitate me, to paralyze me, to keep me from telling the truth. I will not allow fear to rule me, to tyrannize over me the way my abuser did. I will not be defeated; I will conquer my fear. No matter what the outcome on Tuesday, I will be the victor, for my battle is against fear, and I will have overcome it.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Forgiving vs. Enabling

"To forgive all is as inhuman as to forgive none." ~ Seneca

Forgiveness should always be a topic at the forefront of the Christian mind. I know that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, especially over the course of the last six months. I have wrestled with the concept of forgiveness the way Jacob wrestled with his Angel. The reason for this struggle is that I recently exited an abusive relationship. As a Christian, my first thoughts were about how I could forgive my abuser. I was angry over what he had done to me, as I imagine anyone would be. Worse than the anger was the hurt I felt -- I had given my love openly and freely; I had worked hard to treat him the way I myself wanted to be treated, but instead of responding in kind, he chose to tear me down both physically and emotionally. I felt so damaged by his abuses that I was uncertain whether I’d ever be able to trust myself enough to love anyone again. Forgiveness was something I felt I needed to offer, but I wondered if I would ever achieve it.

I spent a lot of time praying about it, as you might imagine. Each time I thought about my abuser, I’d repeat aloud or in my head (as appropriate), “I forgive you.” Sometimes, I did this dozens of times a day. What I wanted was to be able to stop thinking about my abuser, to stop feeling so hurt and so angry at him for what he had done. I wanted to move on and forget all about it; I wanted things to go back to the way they were before. But as time passed and my walk with God progressed, my anger diminished, which had the function of allowing me to see the situation more clearly. As the weeks went by, I began to see a flaw in my thinking. I had been counting on forgiveness as the means by which I would forget about the abuse and reclaim my life. I had intended never to address the abuses in any legal or even moral way; my intention had been to set aside what he had done and to pretend that nothing had ever happened. God had other plans.

As I prayed daily to forgive my abuser, God began quietly opening up channels of communication with other people. At first, I had been unable to really talk with anyone about what had happened; the pain and shame that I felt were too great. But God brought person after person into my life, and each of these people brought healing to me in one way or another. Some of them showed me by their actions that they loved me. Some of them were able to understand my heart without even knowing what had happened and they offered their support in subtle ways that reaffirmed my damaged sense of self-worth. Others offered their shoulders and listening ears with kindness and caring so strong it was palpable. As the story began to unfold to these treasured few, the Spirit went to work, showing me vital pieces of the puzzle that I had ignored or had been unable to see or understand. Yes, I had to forgive; it was required of me because God had forgiven me for my many sins and wrongs. I could not ask for forgiveness without first forgiving those who had wronged me. I accepted this and understood it. The harder part to learn was that forgiving does not always mean what we think it does.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines forgiving this way:
To give up resentment of or claim to requital for, or to cease to feel resentment against an offender.

I began examining my conscience to see if I had been able to achieve true forgiveness, and I found that my anger and my hurt were gone; my resentment had vanished. I wished my abuser well. I hoped that he got the treatment he needed and that he was able to build a life with someone else, and that he would never hurt anyone else. I was confident that I had forgiven. But as the Holy Spirit worked in my life, my conscience began to speak to me, nudging me toward deeper understanding.

Forgiveness is good. It is what Jesus would have done. But would Jesus have left the situation as it was? Would he have refused to speak out or tell the truth about someone, knowing that that person was capable of extreme violence and of harming others? Would he simply have forgiven and walked away, leaving others to suffer in the future? No, my conscience clearly told me that Jesus would not have done so. He would have found a way to heal the entire problem. That might have entailed the casting out of demons, or it might have consisted of curing a disease, or of driving money-changers out of the temple before they preyed upon the poor. I did not want to face the idea that through my forgiveness and lack of response, I might be enabling my abuser to go on and abuse again. After all, his ex-wives had experienced violence at his hands but had done nothing. He was in a position of power when he met me, and he had abused that also, crossing boundaries that should not have been crossed. If someone had reported his abuses in the past, he would not have been in a position of power when he and I met. And if I did not report his abuses, then he would continue in that position, able to easily harm others in the future.

The Free Online Dictionary defines enabling as: to supply with the means, knowledge, or opportunity…to give sanction to. My silence had become a means of enabling this man to hurt others, and to believe that he could do so with impunity. How could I live with that?

Still, I didn’t want to deal with it. I had forgiven. I wanted to forget. I wanted to let the past be past, and I wanted to believe that he had learned his lesson and would never abuse anyone again. Then he began turning up near where I live and work; a pattern of behavior that he had admitted repeating in the past when relationships and friendships were terminated. God was speaking through my friends, through strangers, and even through my abuser’s actions; He was showing me my responsibility.

It has been difficult to take action, and the situation is unresolved at this point. I don’t know what will happen. However, I do know that I have a responsibility not only to forgive, but also to protect others, to keep them from harm. I can still think of my abuser and wish him well. I regret that I am compelled to report his abuses – I did not want to do this. But God often calls on Christians to do things that we do not want to do, and it is the hardest tasks that are the most necessary. I have forgiven – but I will not enable. My silence will not be the vehicle by which another person is harmed. Jesus wouldn’t do that! He would tell the truth in love, no matter how hard it might be, and that’s what I am going to do.