Thriving After Domestic Abuse
Words by Miki Sturges
As I stand in front of the mirror, I sometimes wonder where I’ve been and how I got here. Sometimes I wonder “Who am I?” Then I remember, God created me; I am His daughter. I remember that I am strong, confident, intelligent, smart, and beautiful. I can do anything I put my mind to. Now I have a wonderful husband and amazing boys. Who am I to deserve this? I remember where I’ve been, situations that make my heart pound with a feeling of guilt, shame, and condemnation.
He pointed the gun at my face and demanded, “Promise me you will never say you’ll leave me, promise you won’t make me this angry again.” I didn’t scream or run away, I just looked at him and said, “Just go ahead and shoot me. I can’t keep you from getting mad at me anymore. I’ve tried for 13 years, it’s not working and I can’t promise I will never make you mad, so just shoot me.” He lowered the gun and said dismissively, “You are crazy.” I locked myself in the bathroom and sobbed, “Father, please help me. I just can’t live like this anymore.” That was almost 18 years ago.
Growing up in Japan, I was raised in a strict but loving family. I was always told to be a good girl, to have a successful marriage, and raise children that make parents proud. My parents were no saints, they argued and fought, but at the end of the day, they stayed together regardless of their marital difficulties. When you marry, you are married for life, that’s what I learned as one of the ‘values’ as a child. I couldn’t have imagined this very value would be the thing that kept me in that dark place for so long.
I came to the United States to study and master English. That’s when I met my ex-husband. I was young and naïve, still trying to adjust to a new culture, completely different from what I’d been used to. He was the typical ‘bad boy’ who was handsome (to me, at least), strong, street-smart, and charming. I thought he was the one who would protect me and save me from all the bad things, a man who I could feel secure with. And I thought I could be the woman who would stand beside him and be the ‘angel’ that would rescue him. I was in love with him and though my parents disapproved of my engagement, I married him anyway without their blessing.
From the beginning, he was controlling. He did not allow me to see my friends unless he was with me. When he got angry, he often punched me or shoved me against the wall, and he would tell me, “You made me mad!” blaming me for his behavior. Though I questioned his reasoning for hitting me, I told myself I shouldn't have made him angry. I told myself, “I am no angel myself. I’ve done things that deserved his anger and violent treatment. I deserved it.” It is true that it wasn’t always bad, and I hung on to the ‘good’ times when he was nice to me, when we laughed together, and when I trusted that he loved me unconditionally. So I stayed for 13 years, but at the end, I just couldn’t take it anymore, I was at the end of my rope.
His actions on that day pushed me over the edge to finally leave the dark place I had been in for so many years. In a way, I’m grateful for the experience. I am grateful that he showed me who he was, and I am grateful that God gave me the strength to survive, swallow my pride, and ask for help. As I celebrated Christmas at the safe-house, I felt a sense of peace and security that I hadn’t felt for many years. Out of the storm came restored faith and trust in God, but not without many, many tears and anguish. I had many days of soul searching, asking for forgiveness, and regaining strength. I’m finally coming to a place where I can share my story. I am standing on God’s love, His forgiveness, mercy, and protection. That same God who brought me out of the storm and provided the opportunities to become who I am today. I’m weak on my own, but God, my family, and the fellowship of other women sustain me. It is my hope and prayer that my story would give even one person the courage to find herself again, and take control of her life.
Miki is a creator and founder of Mamapreneurs Club, whose mission is to provide support, encouragement, inspiration, and tools for work at home mama entrepreneurs. She's happily married to her husband, Paul, of 14 years, and she's a mom of 3 boys. Besides being a work at home mama entrepreneur, she juggles being a representative on her boys' school board, being involved in the praise team, serving in various ways in her church, singing in the local semi-professional choir, Western Colorado Chorale, and fully enjoying her life.