By Victoria Ostrosky
Domestic. Backyard barbeques, washing dishes, mowing lawns, bedtime stories, popcorn and a movie on the couch. Peaceful, happy scenes that give us warm fuzzies. Everyday tasks performed with people we love making our lives worth living.
Abuse. Fighting and yelling. Screaming and threats. Bullies and bruises, contusions and broken bones, broken spirits and broken hearts.
These two words don’t belong together. But they are too often found right there grasping each other in a dance of death.
Domestic abuse has been going on for millennia, but that doesn’t make it unworthy of our notice. The vast majority of domestic abuse is aimed at women and children and you can find it in every neighborhood and every church.
Shanna was an abused wife and mother of five children. She was submissive for years to her manipulative and physically abusive husband. His bad behavior devolved as he became addicted to cocaine. “I could see the darkness behind his eyes.” One day he almost beat her to death and that was finally the last straw for Shanna. She ended up at Hosanna House, a safe place for abused women, and it took her nine months to get her children back.
Shanna was born and raised in Fort Walton Beach and got married right out of high school. He was her knight in shining armor, swept her off her feet and promised to take care of her. When she became pregnant with her first child, he began to isolate her from her family and friends. She was no longer allowed to spend time with them. Her mom did periodic welfare checks over the years but was unable to foster a relationship with her daughter and grandchildren.
While Shanna was at Hosanna House, she grew in Christ and learned more about what being a daughter in Christ meant. She was uncomfortable going to church at first, because she was embarrassed about being divorced, but the people at Destiny welcomed her and spoke life and healing and encouragement into her.
Anyone who has researched what abuse does to the victim, knows that it’s more than physical, as bad as that is. It’s mental and emotional, too. Victims are verbally beat down over a period of months or years, and come to feel that they are worthless, ugly, unworthy of love, and hopeless. The bruises and broken bones heal, but broken spirits and broken hearts take a lot longer.
Shanna’s story hit a little close to home for me. I could feel her pain and her shame, because I experienced my own abuse many years ago, and I can testify to the healing power of God. We hear the phrase ‘being the hands and feet of Jesus’, and maybe you’ve wondered exactly what that means for you.
For the Shannas in the world, it means stepping up and speaking life and love and healing into someone who is broken inside. It means taking the time to provide for their physical needs and emotional needs as well. It means time, and more time. Because growth and healing do just that – they take a lot of time.
God has given back to Shanna what the difficult years took away. She is now remarried to a wonderful man who adopted all five of her children, and who loves Jesus like she does. “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship. We’ve grown together in the Lord.”
“Don’t lose hope and get on your knees and cry out to Him,” Shanna says. “You need to invite Him into the situation. The moment you seek Him with all your heart is when things change. On the other side of fear is everything you ever wanted.”
You can listen to Shanna’s complete story of redemption and many other incredible interviews on the weekly Road to Redemption radio show and podcast at www.roadtoredemptionpodcast.com.