What happens to the human psyche when someone you love and trust abuses you? How do you respond when the one who said, “I’ll love you till death do us part,” calls you names that would make a sailor blush? To whom do you turn when your spouse, who is adored by outsiders, throws you against the wall or shakes you like a ragdoll? The typical response is to do nothing. To remain silent. To keep the secret. The result? You change, and not for the better.

Domestic abuse happens to one in three women globally. In the US, one in four women and one in seven men experience severe abuse at the hands of their intimate partner. You may be sitting in the cubicle next to them at work. You may be sitting in the pew next to them at church. You may be “them.”

No one begins a relationship expecting to be abused. I know I didn’t. I practically levitated down the aisle when I married my tall, dark, and handsome heartthrob. I truly believed he would love and cherish me and that we would live happily ever after. At least, that was my intention. A few years later, when in a fit of rage he picked me up and threw me against the headboard of our bed, I was terrified. This couldn’t be happening to me. To us. Surely he meant it when he said it would “never happen again.” Twenty years later, I finally accepted that he never meant it.

After years of praying, hoping, and believing, I finally came to the place where I realized the miracle was not going to be that he would change and our marriage would be saved. The miracle was going to take place in me. I was going to change. I was going to trust God to write the new script to my happily ever after. I was going to pursue healing from this trauma with all of my strength and will. I was not looking simply to heal, but to heal well. Not simply to live, but to live, really live. And not simply to love, but to love, really love…again.

In spite of its severity, it took many years before I could admit that what was happening was abuse; and it took even longer to work up the courage to actually leave for good.

Through those long, painful years, my personal faith sustained and encouraged me as I began to address, step by step, my denial about what was happening and finally exercise the courage to call it what it was—abuse. Understanding that I was precious to God and fully loved and accepted by Him changed how I saw myself, and it was a turning point in my personal healing. Likewise, understanding God’s heart for victims of domestic abuse (regardless of how the abuse expresses itself) was also a pivotal moment. That is why I am so excited to announce that I have partnered with Bible.com and YouVersion to create a simple, impactful, online devotional that can start you down your own path to healing from the trauma of abuse.

This new devotional shares the title of my book, Healing Well and Living Free from an Abusive Relationship, and it can be found here.

I know that, sometimes, the first step can be daunting, and maybe you’re not yet ready to take a big leap. Instead, let this devotional be your gateway to healing. It is simple, brief, and requires no commitment. In addition, it is free to use, and if you don’t already have an account on Bible.com, it is very easy to set up.  

On this 7-day devotional journey, I will share some of my personal story as I walk you through some steps you can take toward your own freedom. And with each day’s devotion, there are questions to help you process your current situation and consider your future, as well as Bible verses that have inspired me and, I believe, will inspire you, too.

My hope is that this devotional will be a gentle nudge for you to move forward in your journeyeven if you are wavering or unsure of your worthbecause despite what you feel, you matter.

Maybe you haven’t heard that in a while, and maybe you don’t believe it anymore. But it’s true. You matter. And until you can believe it again for yourself, believe in my belief!

Domestic abuse is part of my story. Maybe it’s part of yours, too; but I promise that it doesn’t have to be the end of your story. You can write your own ending—take your first step here: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/12239-healing-well-and-living-free

Then, if you haven’t already, continue your healing journey with my book, Healing Well and Living Free from an Abusive Relationship, which takes you through a proven, step-by-step process to go from victim to survivor to overcomer. There is life and happiness to be found after abuse, but you have to take that first step. I hope you will take that step now. You won’t regret it.