In the previous post I talked about why it was so difficult for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I was married to a man who abused children for the entire forty years we were married. The shock. The shame. The craziness of it all was at times almost too much for me to absorb. There were moments when I thought I had lost my mind. While I never went into denial, I did go into a state of deep, traumatizing shock.
I get asked frequently what it felt like to find out that the man I loved, the man I shared every aspect of my life with, the man I prayed for and adored, the father of my children….what did it feel like to find out that the very hands that caressed and held me were the very hands that betrayed innocent children?
I’m crying as I’m writing this. My heart is racing. My breathing is rapid. It has been several years now since I’ve known the truth about John, and I still feel so broken inside. You have no idea how much I wish it wasn’t true that he was a pedophile! It’s been said that the truth sometimes hurts, and in this case it sure did!
The moment I found out that John was a pedophile, my heart was shattered.
As I mentioned time and time again in these blog posts, I didn’t take marriage lightly. I prayed for a godly husband from the time I became a Christian at the young age of twelve. In fact, that was the only thing I was passionate about. I was a virgin when I got married, and I say that now with so much sorrow. I saved myself for the one man that would become my husband. My mind never wavered from that. I wanted to go into my marriage feeling pure — a godly woman kind of pure. And, I thought that I was marrying a man who had kept himself pure. I thought I was marrying a godly man — the answer to my prayers.
Finding out about John’s “other life” — the dark life that he kept so secret from me — was like getting kicked in the center of my heart over and over again. For years, people looked at our marriage as the prime example of what a marriage should be. I was so proud in a humble kind of way. I felt so honored to be an example to others. I counseled women in their troubled marriages. I helped them to communicate better with their husbands. I gave them guidance on how important praying together was for a marriage. I told them of the many times John and I held hands and fell asleep praying.
Finding out that I shared my entire being with a man who was a cold-faced liar and molester crumbled my heart. I had never felt so empty, so betrayed in my life!
I remember telling John often how happy and how special I felt that he had saved himself sexually just for me. I told him how much stronger that made our relationship. And, now…..now that I knew the truth I learned what the word betrayal meant. How could he listen to me and agree with me, when by his admission in court, he told the judge the first time he molested a little girl he was fourteen. God forbid! Everything that meant anything in our marriage was a lie from the very beginning! The foundation that I thought our marriage was built upon was never there, and that shattered me again and again.
To accept the truth about John meant that I acknowledged that all of those years together were years of lies and deceit and evil. It’s really weird, but I can remember praying together with John and asking God to help in certain areas of our lives. One night, in my naive thinking, I remember crying to John saying something was wrong. God wasn’t answering our prayers. I asked him if he thought maybe it was me. Was there something in my life that was not right with God? My attitude? My lack of bible knowledge? My lack of patience with the kids? What was it? He gave me a blank stare as if to say, “It’s you alright. You need to get your spiritual act together.”
How dare he even bring shame to my prayer life! Every single part of my life was torn apart by his actions! I felt dirty, used, ugly, stupid, and definitely mocked by the lies and deceit.
I’m still struggling, and I know it’s going to take a long, long time to work through all of the emotions and pain of more than half a lifetime spent living with a liar, manipulator, deceiver, and abuser. I will always struggle with the fact that I didn’t see through this man and by my inability to see him for who he was innocent, beautiful, precious children will suffer the trauma of sexual and mental abuse from him all of their lives. I am so sick and so sad about this!
Every week I get emails from wives who are just now learning the truth about their husbands. They are experiencing the same feelings of betrayal that I had. Many tell me they have the facts, but maybe…….just maybe…..their husband will change. Or, maybe he’s telling the truth. Maybe he did only “accidentally” molest in a moment of weakness.
I always respond the same way. A liar, manipulator, and deceiver who molests children will say anything to keep himself out of trouble. He’s selfish, he’s still lying, and he’ll continue to abuse. Believe the truth and leave! And ninety percent of the time they respond by telling me that they wish they could leave, but it’s just too hard.
It would be easy to criticize, but…………try to imagine yourself being in this situation. Without tons of support — spiritually, financially, and mentally — the picture of leaving is pretty bleak for a wife. The easier thing is what is often done. Turn a blind eye, believe him when he says he’s sorry and he’ll never do it again, and let bygones be bygones. Besides being easier, this is pounded into us in our churches. We, the abused, are told we must forgive. We are told if we don’t forgive we will never again experience peace or joy and ultimately we will not enter heaven.
The very topic of being forced to forgive the abuser messes with a victim’s mind and causes another deep layer of additional trauma. ***More about this in another post.
Let me end today by saying that as desperate, as heartbreaking as my situation felt, I can tell you that my biggest heartbreak was knowing about the children. No child should ever have to suffer the trauma of a sexual predator, and yet we know that these horrific actions are being done every single day. It’s time to stop denying and start standing up and shouting out for victims of abuse. It’s time to be a unified voice that says “No more! Your actions will be exposed! We will not keep quiet any longer.”
My son Jimmy has been an advocate for victims of abuse and an educator on prevention of child sexual abuse ever since he found out about his father. Jimmy has resources that will help you. Please be sure to visit his site at: jimmyhinton.org . Together Jimmy and I have become a voice for those who have been abused and we’d love for you to join us, too.
Next time I will be talking about very specific reasons why most wives don’t leave their husbands when they find out about the abuse. And, I’ll tell you why I did choose to no longer be joined to my husband — quite a different reason than you might think.
Thank you for stopping by. I pray that you’ve been enlightened and encouraged. That is always my prayer. Together we will continue to make a difference!