Testimony of Domestic Violence Survival (Cont)

by Susan Smith
(Anywhere, USA)

I am a prayerful person. It was in the midst of all the problems with my husband that God and I truly became best friends. I had prayed like never before since I had gotten married. I prayed over my husband night and day. I read books about praying and read my Bible. I laid hands on him anytime he was in our bed and when he was out of town working or out partying I prayed even harder.

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

I prayed for the demonic spirits to be cast out of Donnie by the blood of Jesus. They came and went, sometimes before my very eyes. I remember him coming home very drunk one night and it was literally like watching a person with multiple personality syndromes. One minute he was weeping and crying, begging forgiveness from me, even praying out loud to God, the next minute his voice completely changed and he stared straight at me and said, “I am the devil and I am going to hurt you. Get out of here before I kill you!”

I remember several times he pulled guns and threatened to kill me even after all that. I was weak, afraid, and ignorant to the law. My mind kept replaying how quickly he had been released from jail the first time he pulled a gun on us. I now know I had the power to put him in jail. Because of the way Donnie was released after I reported him the first time, I had no faith in the legal system. I actually saw them as being harmful to me. I formed the opinion that anything considered domestic violence must just result in a slap on the hand and a fine that, to me, would only result in endangering my safety even more and infuriating Donnie.

I researched divorce. I found scriptures both for and against it.

And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband; and let not the husband put away his wife I Corinthians 7:10-11

“For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, For it covers ones garment with violence,” Says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.” Malachi 2:16

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, comitteth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. Matthew19: 9

WARNING: If the following verse is not understood correctly it can be the most useful verse in the Bible to Satan when read by an abused/battered wife! God does NOT want us to stay in dangerous situations. Don't ever stop reading halfway through a verse...or else you may only see what Satan wants you to see...NEVER "read between the lines" in God's book. If you do, you may only see the underlined words in an abusive marriage.

Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Ephesians 5:22-23

God was my strength and my refuge and religion was my enemy…Words rang in my ear from sermons preaching against divorce and statistics of what happens to children of divorced parents. I was listening to the world instead of God who says:

And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
Isaiah 54:13
The scriptures were so confusing…

I prayed for God to save my husband. I was so confused by what to do. I finally got brutally honest with God. I told him: “Look, I don’t know what you want out of me. I will fight for this marriage till death do us part. I truly want out, but I need You to do it to show me it is Your will.”

In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. Psalms 138:3

God answered.

My husband pulled a gun on several other people including his own friends from his motorcycle club and even on old high school acquaintances at his 10-year high school reunion. No one ever reported him because they were either afraid of him or knew him well enough to know he would “pay his way out” of trouble using his infamous attorney who helped negatively reinforce my husband's self-destructive behavior for years. Finally, he pulled his gun on two guys, strangers, while he was working out of town in Florida. Those men reported him and he got charged with assault with a deadly weapon. That was in November 2004. At that time, he claimed he had “quit” drinking. I later learned that he replaced (or had been supplementing) his alcoholism with drugs.

To shorten the story again my husband came back to Arkansas, and he went on a drug/drinking binge. He missed his court date for the felony charges in Florida during this time. The week before Easter he disappeared. He didn’t come home and would call now and then to check in. He drained all the money out of our checking account. I was literally rolling change to try to keep our daughter's daycare check from bouncing. My husband was pulling the money out of the account faster than I could put it in. After several days of him missing he showed up at our church the Thursday night before Good Friday. I was at Praise Band practice, and we were singing in the sanctuary. Suddenly, I heard a child screaming across the hall. I ran out to see if it was my daughter. I still remember the door swinging open as I was dashing across the hall.

I froze.

My husband was standing right in front of me. He looked as if he had not bathed in days. I immediately looked around for Madelyn. She was in the nursery screaming. My husband had gone in to tell her “Hi.” She was crying because he was leaving and wouldn’t take her with him. I thank God regularly that he left her there. He looked at me and said he wasn’t leaving. Church was a public place and I couldn’t make him leave. I agreed with him that church was a public place and even asked him to come into the sanctuary hoping God would step in. Apparently it was not the reaction he was hoping for.

He turned and left.

The nursery worker, was still trying to calm my daughter down as I began hugging and kissing her and asking what had upset her. Then, with my baby girl safely in my arms I slipped into the back of the sanctuary. I just broke down into sobs and tears. I called the neighbors who said Donnie was not at our house. I planned to go home, pack our bags, and go home to Texas once and for all. I had been holding out because of pride and because I had been back in college for about a year. I was taking 18 hours that semester to try to finish as soon as possible knowing I needed to be able to support my little girl and myself. We had already had to file bankruptcy and our home was on the verge of being lost in the settlement due to my husband not working or being able to keep jobs because of his habits.

On the way home, I called my mother and filled her in. She said she would call the local police stations in Arkansas and at least alert them that there may be a problem in case my husband showed up while I was packing. He did. He was very calm at first. He did catch me packing bags and that set him off. He said I couldn’t leave and I attempted to calm him down. I told him our daughter and I were going to go home and visit for Easter when I got out of school the next day. He bought it so I put my baby girl to bed (She was now 3 years old).

After she was asleep my husband wanted to discuss our marriage. I was working on homework and it was near midnight. My Dad had called several times as well as my Mom to check on me. They had called each other and discussed my situation. This is amazing in itself. My parents had been divorced for years and NEVER talked to one another. I had already decided it was over. I told my husband this in a very calm, tired voice. I told him I wanted a divorce and it was too late to discuss it. We could talk more about it after I got out of class the next day.

He did not accept that response and came across the room, grabbed me by my throat and picked me up off the floor. I could not breathe. I thought I would surely die right then. I couldn’t scream because my airway was completely squeezed shut. At the very last moment, he let go and I fell to the floor. My Dad called right about then. My husband answered the phone, called my Dad several curse words and refused to let him speak to me. As soon as Donnie hung up on him I said, “My Dad is going to call the police.” Dad called back shortly after that. Donnie handed me the phone and said, “Tell him you are alright.” I said, “No, I will not.” My Dad ironically asked the right question which was “Did he lay his hands on you?”

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Testimony of Domestic Violence Survival

by Susan Smith
(Anywhere, USA)

For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. Mark 11:23-26

I was fortunate to have Christian grandparents on both sides of my family. My Memaw and Papaw as well as my Grandmother always took us to church. My parents did too…but life at home was “rocky” to say the least. My mother has always been a God-fearing woman and suffered from living with an abusive husband. The abuse was mental, physical and financial. I remember hearing her crying in the kitchen after one of their screaming matches that ended in my Dad hitting her. I was around four years old. By the time my brother and I were teenagers his wrath had left bruises on all of us. Eventually, my mother got enough courage to leave him and they divorced after 25 years of marriage. By then, I had graduated high school and my brother was 16.

I had worked part-time throughout high school and continued to do so during college. Soon, I was working and partying more than I was attending classes. I eventually withdrew from school all the while avoiding my mother. You see I earned a full academic scholarship to college so she didn’t actually know I was ditching school (or so I thought Ha!). She finally stepped in and laid down the law after seeing my transcript. I got serious about school again after that, but continued to stay out late and party. I was living with different friends trying to avoid my home. Mom had split up with Dad and she and my 16-year-old brother were living together in a two-bedroom apartment.

I met my future husband at a bar. He was out drinking and I was out partying. We ended up exchanging phone numbers, dating, living together, and getting engaged. He was working in Texas temporarily and lived in Arkansas. I was looking for any way out of this town and away from my dysfunctional family. All during my rebellious time I was still “attending” church, but in the long run “attending” church did not save me…God did.

We lived together 2 ½ years before we got married. During that time, I was in and out of college pursuing a bachelor’s degree and my husband started a cable tv construction business. His business took off. Money was everywhere. Then, his drinking and partying got out of control.

He had a history of DWI’s that only increased along with the money he made. He was drinking all the time. He started cheating on me and confessing it. I felt trapped, deceived, used. I demanded that he marry me??? Was I crazy??? I was too prideful to just pack my bags and go home to my mother. I had made the decision to move to Arkansas and I needed to “suck it up” and handle the situation. I had lost a lot of credits and my scholarship when I transferred to our local University. I thought if he commits to marriage then he will change. We went to pre-marital counseling and had a beautiful “big” wedding and he said his vows with sincerity and love. I just knew things were fixing to change for the better. He promised not to cheat and to love me as a wife should be loved. He vowed to keep his vows…

I soon discovered I was pregnant and the due date was nine 9 months after our wedding night. Things got really bad. My husband began drinking even more. He started staying out for days at a time and not coming home. I remember being 8 months pregnant and getting phone calls at all hours of the morning to come and pick him up because he was too drunk to drive. Once I had to bail him out of jail after getting in a bar fight. The friends he had been out with left him and called me to let me know he had been arrested. He started getting physically abusive (slapping and hitting now and then) me again.

My baby girl was born in September 2001. When she was three weeks old my husband confessed he had been cheating on me again. My husband had been the sole provider for so long. What would my parents and family say and think if I came home now??? I thought of so many reasons to leave and so many to stay. I forgave and tried to be the best wife and mother ever.

By our daughter's first birthday, September 2002, things were bad again. My husband was out partying for two nights before her birthday which of course was a big family party at Chuck E Cheese. My neighbor called me at some point the morning of my baby’s party and said my husband called and was “lost” walking down the side of a road. She was going to pick him up and make sure he made it to the party. I found out later that she was one of the many women he had slept with throughout our marriage.

By Christmas 2002 his drinking hit another low point. He got drunk one night after I had put our daughter to bed and he locked me out of the house in the rain. Then, he called 911 and told them I had hit him and was being violent. When the police came, he threw a cell phone at me that hit me in the chest and the police arrested him for 3rd degree domestic battery. I was the classic abused wife and refused to testify against him, partly because I was afraid of what would happen to our daughter and myself afterward.

January 2003 brought more troubles. This time he got so drunk he came home, punched me and threatened to kill me. I grabbed our daughter out of her bed (she was a little over a year old). In the meantime, he had gotten the shotgun out of our bedroom and walked outside our front door into the dark. I heard a shot go off and thought he had shot himself. My body was shaking when I opened the front door to find him lying on his back on the sidewalk. The gun was on top of his stomach and he wasn’t moving. It was very dark. I slowly forced myself to walk over and check on him. I yelled his name and he didn’t move. My heart stopped, I thought surely he was dead. I nudged his leg with my foot and he started LAUGHING!! He was pretending that he had shot himself!!!!! He got up and went in the house with the gun then began crying and apologizing. Then he stated he was going to get some bullets and shoot our daughter, shoot me, and shoot himself.

I fled…

My mind was racing. I knew I couldn’t possibly get my baby strapped in her car seat and get out of the driveway before he got back with a loaded gun. Praying for the life of my child I ran to my neighbor’s house. The whole time I prepared myself for getting shot in the back and even prayed if it happened that the bullet would be stopped by my body and not reach my baby who I was holding in my arms. What if my neighbor’s weren’t awake? What if he shot me while I was knocking on their door and ringing their doorbell?

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple and my cry came before him, even into his ears. Psalm 18: 3-4, 6

God answered.

Just as I reached the porch the door opened and in the dark a voice said: “Angela, get inside.” A hand reached out and pulled my daughter and I into the safety of my neighbor’s home. My neighbor’s had heard my husband fire the shot earlier and called the police.

The police came and arrested him.

They took a brief statement from me. I never actually read that police report until the summer of 2006. All this time I thought the police had recorded the fact that he had threatened to kill us. I never understood until I read the report why Donnie was released within hours of his arrest. As it turns out he was only charged with attempted suicide and disturbing the peace. My statement had been misconstrued and not reported correctly by the officers who responded that night. This event plagued me for the remainder of our marriage. I never understood why a person who had not only threatened to kill me, and my child, but had actually fired a bullet into the air with a shotgun only a few feet away from us, was released so quickly after arrest, and on his own accord (no one had to sign to get him out of jail that night), then allowed to simply get into a cab and return right back to our home!

After his arrest that night my neighbors helped me pack my bags and Madelyn and I fled to my husband's parents’ house. (All my family was in Texas.) He was out of jail within hours and came home to find our daughter and I gone. Shortening the story again, I still did not leave him. I stayed away for about 3 days. I met him at a public restaurant and gave him an ultimatum, either I packed up and left with our baby or we went to counseling. He chose counseling. I thought he really would try to make it work again. We met with the pastor that married us. He cut back on drinking and I went to Ala-non-meetings. When those we love are hurting themselves and others we exhaust all resources to help them and ourselves.

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Testimony of Domestic Violence Survival (Cont)

by Susan Smith
(Anywhere, USA)

I simply said “Uh-huh” for fear even saying yes would alert my husband to what was being said. Dad said he was calling the police and they would be on their way. I said “OK.”

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

My husband never suspected anything. He continued to rant and rave. He was sitting with his back to the window when I saw the police car drive by. They kept driving! My heart fell. My husband kept ranting and raving for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, I saw their headlights coming down the street again. This time I jumped up and ran past my husband and out the front door all the way out to the street. I was prepared and knew this time he was going away for a long time. He had missed his court date for the charges in Florida and had a warrant out for his arrest. It was the first thing I told the police.

I remember asking my husband why he nearly choked me to death as I was waiting for the police to come. He said, “I choked you and you can’t do anything about it. I didn’t leave any marks on you. My friends told me that was what to do so I won’t get caught. You have no proof.”

He was right.

It still sends a shiver down my spine. They never charged him with choking me that night. There were no visible bruises according to the police that night, although as I thought about it later, they took the report in the dark in my driveway. It did happen that a bruise did surface on my arm from being slammed into the sofa chair as the force of his arms had picked me up off of the floor. I recorded this on videotape the next morning hoping it would serve as evidence. I tried several times to have charges pressed against him for that attack. I was told that because it was just a domestic dispute they would not waste the time to file the charge because my husband was already due to be expedited to Florida on more serious charges. I begged them to at least give me something in writing that they were refusing to press the charges. They refused. It still scares me because the state does not have accurate records of his abusive nature.

The law finally came through for me the night my husband attempted to choke me.

The police arrested him. They took him in on his warrant from Florida.

I remember walking back into my house that night after they had driven away with Donnie in the police car. I collapsed on the couch and felt the weight of the world being lifted off my shoulders.

I heard God’s voice ring out very clear and say, “It is finished.”

Thanks be to God.

My husband was held at the local jail for 2 weeks. Then, he was extradited to Florida and sentenced to 2 years in prison and 2 years of supervised probation for assault with a firearm. I did visit him twice while he was in the local jail. I went once by myself, and once I took his sister and our little girl. I was also allowed to bring him 3 sets of clean underwear, socks, a nice change of clothes, and my Bible before he was extradited.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger a ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison and ye came unto me. Matthew 25:34-36

I have since received a divorce from him citing adultery in which I had a witness there to testify that she had slept with him in our house in our bed. He denied it to the end until my attorney told him I had a witness and gave him her name.

My witness happened to be a friend of my old neighbor, who also slept with him.

God’s presence has been seen and felt daily in my life since my now ex-husband was taken away.

I mentioned he was taken away during the early morning hours of Good Friday. That evening my baby girl and I went to church where I sang in the choir. We had all been instructed to wear black that night because Good Friday is actually a day of morning as Jesus was killed, nailed to the cross. The following Sunday I really struggled about whether I would sing with Praise Band or not. After all, it was Easter, a time of celebration for Christ has risen. Though I was relieved that danger was removed from my home, I was deeply grieved over my little girl losing her Dad and for the path that now faced us and him. My neighbors and their children came to church us that day. I did sing that Easter Sunday and God blessed me with the most glorious sight!!

As I was singing these words:
“I looked up and saw my Savior coming, I looked up and saw my Savior coming down the road.
Hallelujah He is Risen, Hallelujah, He is here.
I looked up and saw my Lord dying, I looked up and saw my Lord dying on a tree.
Hallelujah He is Risen, Hallelujah, He is here.
I looked up, and saw my Lord Arising, I looked up, and saw my Lord Arising, He’s Alive!
Hallelujah He is Risen, Hallelujah, He’s Alive!”

I remember barely being able to see down the aisle through my tears as a member of our church came down the aisle carrying a wooden cross portraying Jesus.

Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4: 9-10

Then, I saw God. He approached the altar through the Holy Spirit in the purest, most innocent form of a child.

I watched in sweet wonder as my neighbor's 5-year-old little boy, who had rarely been in a church, got up from his pew where his family was sitting, walked to the front of the church, knelt down at the prayer rail, his hands clasped together, and bowed his head to pray. That image was burned into my heart and was the beginning spark of the fire of hope that burns in my spirit today. For we are to come to God as the little children do and when we do, He moves in magnificent ways.

I lost the house. My ex-husband's family disowned us and even threatened to take me to court for being a bad parent. God protected us. The only thing his mother said she was going to tell the judge was how she could prove that I “dragged” my baby to church 4 days a week. And this is a woman who hosted a prayer group in her home once a week!!!!(Hallelujah!!) She had intentions of speaking evil to me, but when she opened her mouth, all that came out was God!

We never spent one night in a hotel when we lost our house. I separated his things from mine and his family was notified to come pick them up. Our friends from his motorcycle club – men, women and children - came and packed up everything else in one day!! They loaded everything into the U-Haul and everything was sent to Texas. This was miraculous. I lived in a three-bedroom, two-bath, 1 ½ story home with an enclosed garage and a walk-in attic!

I still had one more semester left to finish my degree so moving home immediately was not an option. I called up an old girlfriend I had met and worked with in 1998. She had a 3-bedroom home in a nice part of town and welcomed us with open arms. I called her on Thursday knowing we were moving out of our house for good that Saturday. Understand that though she and I were friends, we were the type that never saw each other and only called once or twice a year to chat. I remember asking her during that call if she would like time to think about my daughter and I moving in with her and reminded her about my daughter being only three. She never hesitated, not once. She simply said, “How soon do I need to have your room ready?” I was quite frank and told her… “In two days.”

We lived with her for 5 months. She was one of our many angels (although my little girl will specifically tell you that my friend was my angel and my friend's Cocker Spaniel, Magic, was my little girl's angel.) Thank you so much to my dear friend for opening her heart and home to us without any reservations. I thank you especially for her prayers.

- Susan

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Testimony of Domestic Violence Survival (Cont) the conclusion

by Susan Smith
(Anywhere, USA)

I had two summer sessions and a fall semester to complete before I could graduate. Mom was sending money faster than she was making it to help support our basic needs. I knew I would use student loans to cover summer classes and wondered how I would be able to afford my fall classes.

God had it covered…

I got an invitation and notice that I had received a scholarship. There was a big screen at the front that showed details of each person’s scholarship as they went up to get the acceptance package. The scholarships were ranging anywhere from $250 to $2,500. I looked up at the screen and could not believe my eyes. I immediately felt tears welling up as I tried to read it again while carrying a very cranky 3 year-old to the front of the room. I was awarded a full paid scholarship for the school year as well as and extra $1,250 per semester!

Okay, so school was covered and we had a place to live, but how could we afford to pay our living expenses for the next 6 months?? I knew I would need to supplement the money Mom was sending, because at that point she was not only sending us money to live on, but she was also paying my car note, two storage buildings, car insurance, divorce attorney fees…

I had applied for a co-op job before summer began. I received a call from the co-op department the week after my husband went away that I had been selected for an interview at a surgical clinic. I went to the interview and was told on the spot that they would be interviewing a few other candidates, but they wanted me for the job. It was only a 9 -week job during which I would work in the Accounting Department while one of the ladies was out on maternity leave.

Do you know that 9-week job turned into an 8-month job that lasted until the week before I graduated and moved back to Texas? They loved my work so much that they kept me on and trained me in several departments so I could continue to work. Did I mention that not only did I work with wonderful people, but they were also Christians that prayed for me during that time???

Our God is an Awesome God.

I got qualified for food stamps and my daughter qualified for Medicaid. All of our needs were met and this was still only the beginning of the blessings God had in store for us...

I graduated in December 2005, my daughter and I moved home to live with Mom. I got a wonderful job with Christian bosses and co-workers. We no longer need food stamps or Medicaid in fact we even have health insurance now through my job. Thanks be to God!

Hallelujah!!!!! God is good, all the time.

Glory be to God!

The best reactions to all of these things have been those of my friends and family. Those closest to me who saw my daughter and I come through all this speak to me with words of awe and amazement. They fully grasp God’s overwhelming presence and power. I guess in the end it was like my baby girl and I were like Daniel in the lions’ den. All the dangers were there that should have devoured us, but through prayer and God those lions could only look on in disbelief as God not only kept their mouths shut, but also raised us up in ways we had never imagined were possible. I am most moved by the number of lives God has blessed by allowing them to see my personal Goliath(s) defeated miraculously.

It is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me. He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man. Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and sing praises unto they name. Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and sheweth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore. Psalms 18: 47-50

Thank you God for moving my mountains!!!

Please keep my ex-husband and his family in your prayers. His mother passed away in January 2006. He was unable to attend the funeral. His release date from prison was December 5, 2006.

I have since remarried and my daughter has a wonderful new Daddy.

We have no contact with my ex. He was ordered to pay child support that he does not pay and also ordered “no visitation.”

We have been told to get my daughter adopted by her new Daddy. We will have to contact my ex.

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