Eleanor's Testimony of Joy

NOVEMBER 9, 2023 | Eleanor, GHW Mama

My trauma therapist of eight years assures me repeatedly that I have courage, that my abuser is an actor of paramount ability, and that my expectations of safety within the marriage state are healthy. Because of this assurance and the work done on my end, I can brace myself and look back in time and watch the slow betrayal of my deepest and most precious trust.

Of all the shining attributes possessed by this young man at church (clean cut, well-versed in the Scriptures, good with children, well-employed as a school teacher, a Deacon, a musician, an excellent public speaker and well-loved in our congregation), the one I found most refreshing was his sense of humor. He could make me laugh, and that's saying something. My poetic melancholy embraced his light take on the world, and we enjoyed time together. Or so I thought. So he induced me to believe.

Of course I said yes to marry him. The him that I knew.

I can say the correct terms for tactics he used on me once I had said the vows. That my wedding night was not kind but completely and admittedly non-consensual, as were multitudes of other nights during our 25 years together. That he broke dining room chairs to intimidate myself and our toddlers. That he gaslighted us all (we have four children) in very small incidental ways, but creating an atmosphere of self-doubt in the household day by day. And that he did psychological experiments on our children, saying, "Rats in labs push the button for food all day long if the reward is intermittent." To which I was horrified, saying, "You are NOT doing that to our children," but he did it anyway. But even though these are the tactics he employed over and over, throughout our time, they were not the most cruel.

The day we got married, he stopped being funny, making me smile. It took me a while to notice it, because every cell of my Sunday School being wants to give the benefit of the doubt. At church after service, he stood and spoke with others, laughing and conversing, just until I walked up. Or, sitting with our young children at the table eating apple while I breastfed the baby, he would do his familiar joking and playing that was so dear to me, to wrap up suddenly, smoothly (so the children didn't notice) when I came into the room. Of course, I began to believe it was just me. After years of it, I concluded, "His fun is not for me."

My therapist says they let their guard down at times, and it proved true. One day a year before I decided to leave, he walked into the bedroom where I had been reading and had decided to close my eyes. I looked at him when I heard him and he said, "You're sleeping with your glasses on? Is that so you can see your dreams better?" And I smiled....at the same moment that he realized his mistake. It was then that I knew. He had deliberately withheld it from me all this time. What a cruel person.

I survived in this dark cavern God only knows how.

I prayed for years for his "sexual temptations, which all men have," only to find at the end that he is a child molester and sex addict. To not be implicated in his various proclivities, I had no choice but to leave. I had no money and no credit of my own, but got to relative safety. I and the three children I had with me were adrift in unknowns, all of us with PTSD and functioning one day at a time.

It was after two years of staying with friends, moving from one place to another, that I heard of Give Her Wings. I didn't know how to go about getting in touch, if I would be eligible, or if anyone would nominate me. But the next year I was on the verge of homelessness and desperation, and miraculously I found a contact, was nominated, and immediately accepted. All I could do was laugh out loud, tears on my face, and shout, "Hallelujah!" I didn't lose my apartment. My car was released from the shop with the bill paid. It was freezing cold, and we received heated blankets as personal gifts from people who heard of our plight. Our Christmas Dinner was sent to us! All that time in the Dark Cavern gave us eyes like deep sea fish....the kindness and light were blinding. But it was wonderful! What joyful relief!

And that's the word. Joyful. Give Her Wings spreads joy, with a hearty helping of substance. I've been part of the group since 2016, and it has never wavered in its vision to give avenues of relief to mothers and children affected by domestic abuse. Every day I am grateful I found them, and that they found me. And, on occasion, they even make me laugh.

Eleanor Jones


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