When I was 20 years old I met a man who I thought could walk on water. He said all of the right things and did all of the right things to make me feel like I was the luckiest girl in the world to be with him. We were together for about three months when he asked me to move in with him. I knew deep down this was something God would not approve of, and at that time I wasn’t going to my corps. He presented it to me like a business deal; he showed me how it would be better for me financially if I had a roommate. When I finally moved in with him, there was a sudden change in his attitude. He became very verbally abusive toward me. There were nights when he would wake me up and scream horrible things to me. He wouldn’t stop until he made me cry, and then he would go back to bed as if nothing happened. This became the norm to me. I did my hair a certain way, he tore me down for that. I wore a certain outfit, he tore me down for it, too.
STUCK IN THE CYCLE
I would tell myself, “Okay, Emily, you are going to break up with him.” It was as if he knew every time I was about to do it, because his attitude would change. He would become a really sweet and caring boyfriend again. It became a cycle for me, but that cycle changed one night.
We were in a disagreement and I thought to myself in that moment, “He wouldn’t hit me, he says he loves me.” However, he did hit me that night. Once he started he couldn’t stop, and the harder I fought back, the angrier he got. That became the new norm for me. I never knew when he was going to grab me or what triggered him. It came to the point where I alienated myself from my family and friends. I emailed my professors telling them I was sick and couldn’t come to class because I couldn’t cover my black eyes with makeup, or cover my bruises with the clothes I had. I cancelled lunch dates with my mom so I wouldn’t have to tell her what was going on in my life. I was so ashamed of myself that this was happening to me. I thought I deserved that, and he was just “teaching” me how to be a better person.
A DARING ESCAPE
I lived in fear for eight months, not knowing if he would become so angry that he would kill me. One night, during one of our disagreements, I called my mom and asked her to put her phone on mute; I would put mine on speaker and hide it by the passenger seat I was sitting in, so she could hear when we made it back home.
That night could have been my last night alive if I hadn’t had the courage to call my mom. She called for a welfare check for me and the officers came just at the right moment. I grabbed what I could and left with the police officers. It was a long road to recovery for me. I had to attend several court hearings and talk to attorneys to protect myself. My praying family helped me get out of that situation. They led me back to God when I felt unworthy of His love. They prayed me out of that relationship. If it wasn’t for my family and our forgiving and loving Lord, I would not be where I am today.
A NEW LIFE
In November 2016, I started working for my corps and I’m now the social worker. I was blessed with the opportunity to go on the Summer Service Corps spring mission trip last March to Belize. While I was there, I realized I was called to full-time ministry as a Salvation Army officer. I’m the acting Young People’s Sergeant Major at my corps now.
When you feel like you’re not worthy of the Lord’s grace, just remember that God uses us for Him just as He used many people in the Bible. So when you ask yourself “Why me?,” just know God will use you in mighty ways!
If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, love them and pray them out of it. They may deny your help, but they are defenseless against your prayers! There is hope on the other side of it! I know it is scary leaving, but once you do, you will feel so free. I’m coming into my second year freed and I still struggle—it’s a long road of recovery, but the Lord is with me daily.
“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what He has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1-3).
Emily Reed, AOK Division, Southern Territory