The Years of Devastation: Surviving After Abuse

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

No matter how hard you may try, if you have been in an abusive situation, you will never forget the pain.

I am a survivor of domestic violence in many forms. I was punched. I was slapped. I was thrown across the room so hard, the ligaments in my right foot were torn severely while he laughed in my face. He punished me even further by not allowing me to receive any medical assistance until 24 hours later, and after my foot had swollen to over twice its normal size. Huge lumps surfaced immediately after his fist slammed into my head and body. I wore a busted, bloody, and swollen mouth caused from the thrust of his backhand in the middle of the night or while riding in the car. My body felt the sting of excruciating pain and haunting embarrassment of being physically jolted out the front steps, along with my clothes, while being told to leave…. No way to get anywhere, and no place to go. 

In the early 1970s, we had no telephone, and we only had one car. My son was only a few months old. We had recently moved to a new city and state where everything was so unfamiliar. Living almost seven hours away from any relatives or friends, there was no one around to hear my cries or sense my soul as it shivered in fear. I had no understanding of anything even similar to what I was experiencing, since my parents were the perfect example of a loving relationship. If they ever argued, I never heard them.

I felt I had nowhere to go for help. Besides the physical violence, I suffered almost daily from the evil clutches of verbal abuse. The mental horror of being told you are worthless can destroy your life. Nothing you do or say is right. Your heart is broken, over and over again. You begin to believe those degrading words. After all, you have to be submissive to your husband…right? Also, unfaithfulness flaunted it’s ugly face before me, with no sign of remorse. He had an adulteress affair with a teenager while my son was under one year old. I didn’t even know how long it had been going on. I was not quite 21, so I couldn’t comprehend this at all. I felt trapped and very unloved. Each day, I began to sink deeper into the abyss of hopelessness.

My first abusive marriage lasted over ten years too long. Some of the biggest problems were: I didn’t recognize the problem and I didn’t get help; therefore, I set myself up for defeat, once again. Another marriage that wasn’t really a marriage. Including the dating period, I was facing eight more years of domestic violence. The signs of abuse were all there before we married. He was also unfaithful during the engagement. Yet I still married him. In the beginning, there was mostly mental and verbal abuse. He criticized me. He called me despicable names. He shouted profanity…words I had never heard in all my years. He lost his temper so many times, I couldn’t recall a day he didn’t. He threw things at me. He busted walls. He swerved the car from lane to lane, while driving down the road. He became physically abusive in the end. I’ve even watched him shove a gun to my head, not knowing if his hand would pull the trigger and decide my fate that day. My world became an extremely dark and dismal place, and I didn’t wish to be here anymore. 

During this period, I was helplessly sinking into a season of depression because of my mother’s lengthy illness with cancer. I couldn’t be there for her, as she lived hours away. My marital situation caused me to walk daily in fear. Keeping up with my responsibilities of being a mother, working outside the home, struggling through the abuse, and losing my mother was beginning to take a toll on me. I didn’t even wish to live, except I loved my children and craved to find a way out for us. And leave, I did…after my precious mother passed away. I got away for a short while to stay with my daddy back in my home state. 

I had wasted six and a half more years of my life, hiding my struggle with being attracted to violent men. I didn’t look for them. It seemed they found me. They saw the quiet, lonely, submissive young lady who would cross the deepest ocean to be loved and cherished. Evidently, I was the picture of an easy target for physical and verbal maltreatment. One thing that really stands out in my mind is that neither of these men were substance abusers. No alcohol was ever in my home. Most always alcohol plays a major role in domestic violence cases…. Not so in mine. These were truly troubled, controlling, and greatly disturbed men.

My heart took a beating, along with my body and soul. The only way I could have been rescued was through the mercy of my heavenly Father’s love. And love me, He did…unconditionally. I still have a way to go on this journey. I’ve been significantly strengthened, but I will continue to become stronger each day. 

If you or anyone you know is being abused, please seek help immediately. No one must suffer through the pain and mental anguish of abuse, verbal or physical. You deserve the best, so only accept that. If you have gone through abuse, seek Christian counseling and read self-help books on the subject. And pray. Break the silence.

I wrote my book, Heart Written – Breaking Free, from a collection of poetry and quotes spoken to me from God. It is how my heart has been mended from the brokenness and wounds of abuse. My shattered spirit, at times, continues to weep in the night and ask why this happened to me. I sometimes struggle with wondering why God never introduced me to a wonderful and loving man. I try to believe these are common and normal responses from a survivor of abuse.

My nightmare began when I was only eight years old with childhood sexual abuse from the hands of a man who was only related to my family by marriage. Unfortunately, he is still married to the same person, and he still abuses. Although it’s been 53 years since the initiation of my abuse by this man, I now feel truly grateful to convey to the world I am a survivor. I will not allow my abusers to continue hurting me. I have forgiven them; however, I shall never forget. My pain, my wounds, my scars, and my profoundly-impaired self-esteem will serve as tools to help others like me…to let them know there is healing through faith in Jesus Christ. Only through Him was I allowed to survive those horrifying years of torment and disgrace. I lived that I may share my story and help others on their journey through the mending of their wounds.

May heaven’s peace and healing be yours today. The following poem is from page 238 of the new revision of my book, Heart Written – Breaking Free. I am sharing it to let others like me know there is hope. You aren’t alone in your pain. God is there. Let Him in.

Please order your personally signed copy of my 354-page book of inspiring poetry today with free shipping directly from me. I feel it will touch your soul and bring healing to your heart.

I also would like to ask you to read a beautifully-written blog by a friend and local journalist, Michael Cogdill, on this subject @


Then, You Laughed

Was your heart amused when you called me those names?
Was your ego strengthened when you caused me shame?
Were you feeling manly when you slapped my face
And spoke unkind words to put me in my place?

 Does your memory bring back those days, long ago
When you used your fist to give my head a blow?
Or when you backhanded my mouth in the night,
Then cursed me and swore you would win every fight?

 Did your spirit laugh when you tossed me outside,
While my soul was wishing for somewhere to hide?
My clothes you threw at me with joy in your eyes.
I felt so defeated and tired of your lies.

 Did those times you punched me cause you to feel tall?
Did you feel empowered when you made me fall?
Though I was afraid of the man you were then,
I stayed and continued my game of pretend.

 Those years, although over, still play in my mind.
They haunt me and mock me as nightmares rewind.
That fragile heart, broken, and crushed self-esteem
Still looks unto Jesus to find mended dreams.

 While shattered and wounded, you proved I was weak.
But now, I’ve grown stronger; more loudly, I speak.

The past cannot hold me; my future is bright.
You’ve laughed your last at me; I’ve won the last fight.

© 2011 Doris Hayes Gibson
All Rights Reserved

About Heart Written: Doris Hayes Gibson

My name is Doris Hayes Gibson. My life revolves around Jesus Christ, my Creator, my Redeemer, the Lord of my worship, and the Hope for my tomorrow. My passion is to illustrate God's beauty and love through poetry and song lyrics. I have created hundreds of framed poetry images. Some were gifts of encouragement; some to honor a memory of a loved one, and some were created to help someone celebrate a special occasion. After living out of state for several years, I am, once again, residing in the beautiful Upstate of South Carolina. I have three grown children, five grandchildren, and a blue tortoiseshell Burmese cat. Illustrating God's beauty and love through words of poetry is my deepest passion. Although I have always enjoyed writing, it wasn't until 2005 (when God shut one door) that I realized He was opening the door of a tremendous opportunity to see Him use me in a spectacular way. While I do not claim any greatness of ability in any shape or form, I do know that God brought me through many trials and heartaches for such a time as this. I am now able to share this gift of poetry, with which He has blessed me, to magnify Him through blessing others. I Peter 4:10,11 states: "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." Through my writings, my main goal is to edify Christ. If I have touched one person in a positive way through this ministry, I know it will be worth every effort I put into my work. As I have said before, "This is My Labor of Love...but God's Work of Art." My first book, Heart Written - Breaking Free, was published in November of 2012. It is my prayer that it will reach countless souls and bless lives in tremendous ways. In 2014, my second book, Heart Written - Calling Me, was published. My third and fourth books, Heart Written - Cleansing River and Heart Written - Guarded Treasures, are now available. Please visit any online bookstore to purchase my books or contact me for your personally signed copies of my Heart Written series.
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18 Responses to The Years of Devastation: Surviving After Abuse

  1. Felecia says:

    I am blown away by this story, Doris. I feel as though any words that I write will not convey properly all that I felt while reading this. As I sit here, the one word that resounds in my head is TRIUMPH…nothing less is possible when we put ourselves in the hands of Jesus. There is a quote that I think applies here, “There is no more brilliant light than that which follows complete darkness.” Please continue to let your light, that comes from The Lord, shine ever so brightly…you radiate His love and truth through your words so beautifully!

    Peace and love,


    • Felecia, your statement spoke volumes to my heart. You see, I have always struggled to believe in myself…that I had anything valuable to offer. Each time I sit down to write a blog, I hesitate to publish it. I’m afraid of what others will think. I’m trying to only care what my Father thinks, then He will direct the right ones to read them. It’s really difficult to put myself out there, but I feel I must.

      Once again, my heart is stirred by your kindness. Thank you. I feel your love through your generous comments. And I do love that quote so much!



      • Felecia says:

        “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14,16 NIV

        I just wanted to tell you that I thought of your story and your reply when I read this Bible verse this morning…I think it says all that needs to be said. 🙂
        Peace and love,


      • Yes!!! I read that same verse from my email this morning! 🙂

        You are a most precious lady, Felecia! Thank you so much for the sincere thoughts. What a joy to “know” you, if only through our blogs. Bless you. 🙂


  2. cwilburne says:

    Beloved, as hard as this is to read knowing the pain you endured, the shame and hurt that you have carried through all these years…. you have broken that glass ceiling and exposed the truth. That is so crucial when those monsters who abuse are counting that the truth remain hidden. The Strength of Christ abides in you and with that Strength you have shared those deep truths that will help free others going through the pain and struggle of trying to understand “why me”.
    The Love of Christ shines though you, the anointing on your life is powerful to bring hope and love to many. He has and will use you to reach the hurting who are praying for someone who understands the wounds that reach deep into the soul.
    Each blog, each poem, each time you tell your story the more victory have!
    I love you dearly,


  3. Yes, Diana. Very unbelievable. But, unfortunately, it’s all too true.


  4. Your story is heart-breaking like so many victims but you have overcome and God has raised you up to be in His army to fight abuse. He is calling us to help others who are still bound and show them the way out of their darkness. May God bless you exceedingly and abundantly…


  5. April says:

    My beautiful mother… there is no other as precious as you in all the earth! I am very thankful for you; more than you know. God has brought you through so much and is using you in such a mighty way. Even if you don’t always see it. Please remember that. You will never see the complete impact of what you do. One of my favorite analogies compares our words (good or bad) to a bag of feathers. Once you release them, it is impossible to get them all back. The wind will blow and carry them away to places you may never even go. So it is with your poetry, your blog, and the words of encouragement you share with anyone, even me. Even if you only made a difference for one person, you never know how many lips will repeat those same words, and how many lives will be change, healed, rescued, uplifted, or even convicted. Keep doing what God has called you to do! I love you!


  6. teddytiger01 says:

    When God created Eve in the Garden of Eden, He wanted Eve and all of her daughters to be loved, cherished and supported by the men that marry them. When I read of your life Doris, I was moved to your abusive treatment. Most of the women on dating sites tell this same story of abuse.

    I am deeply thankful and glad that you were rescued by the Lord Jesus and was able to leave the abuse behind you. I pray that He would work a miracle in your heart to heal you from the emotional and physical scars that you have suffered.

    God Bless You Doris,


  7. amandalannon says:

    A fellow overcomer! Thank you for sharing.


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