I made up all kinds of excuses as to why he did what he did. He struggled to hold down a job and made me pay the rent. When I was little, the same things happened to my mom. I thought this is what a good wife did.

The abuse started with my dad and grandpa when I was little. I learned to be the good girl, to be a peacemaker and make everyone around me happy. Being or feeling loved always came at a high price.

When I was only seventeen years old, I met my husband-to-be. He was quiet and seemed so well-mannered. It wasn’t long before he began drinking as soon as he got off work. I thought it was because his job was stressful. I learned quickly how to keep the peace. Often after drinking, he would wake me up and force me to be intimate with him. “No” was never an answer he wanted to hear.

One time, he took our bed apart and threw everything around. Then blamed me for making him act that way. He would yell at me to stop crying, so I did. I stopped feeling. I became numb in order to survive.

When he walked through the door upset, he wanted to deal with whatever the issue was right then. Even though the children were already asleep, he would wake them up and start yelling at them for not doing what he asked them to do. I was so scared that I would sleep downstairs to try to stop him. Then in the day time, we would have to be quiet while he was playing video games or watching a movie. It was NOT okay to make any noise.

I accepted Jesus into my heart and found a great church family. I thought that if I prayed hard enough, fasted and showed him true love that he would change—but that didn’t work. I needed to do something different.

A good friend of mine told me about a class called Her Journey at ARMS. It was so wonderful to learn that I was not alone in my experience. The lessons taught me what abuse was!

I stayed in the relationship several more years, still hoping to fix it. I kept going to ARMS and learned that abuse is not okay with God. He hates abuse. Over time I got stronger and left.

ARMS’ lessons have taught me that it’s okay to feel again. Even to be angry and that it’s important to forgive! Not for him, but for me because of the healing that takes place. I learned that forgiveness sets me free.

If there is anything I could share with someone who would like to come to a Her Journey class at ARMS, it’s that ARMS is a safe place! No one will judge you. They understand how you may feel. It’s a place to heal and regain your identity. You and I are worthy of being loved and treated respectfully. I am grateful for the healing and support I’ve received at ARMS.

Champion a woman like Ariel! For every $75 we receive, we can provide this 15-week recovery program a victim of domestic violence. Your generous one-time Gift and/or Monthly Pledge can mean the difference between life and death for women and their children. Donate today!