By Ashley Salter
At the age of 18, I met a “boy” who was 20. A boy who I thought was everything. A boy I married. A boy who changed my life for the worse. A boy who was controlling, manipulating, jealous, cruel, negative, unfaithful, untruthful, “religious”, etc. All of these things, but I did not see any of it, until years into my marriage.
Even after I recognized these things, I ignored them and made any and all kinds of excuses as to why he was acting and treating me the way he did. Many times I blamed myself. Almost always, I was the one apologizing to him. I was so confused about our relationship and about why I was being treated like this. Yet I stayed, and stayed and stayed.
I had no idea, for so long, that I was in an emotional and verbally abusive marriage. I indeed was married to a narcissist. I told no one, for many years, any of what I was going through. I never asked friends or family for help. I didn’t seek professional guidance either. Truthfully, he had silently taught me to never reach out.
For years, I never had any close friends, so no one would have realized how my life truly was. My family knew in part, but since I never said anything to them, they just supported me in my decisions.
I have story after story after story of abusive situations that I lived through. All of this time, we were going to church, listening to messages, even him preaching messages and me begging God for help. Still I was so confused, still feeling alone and still wondering why I was living this way. Yet, I never did anything.
It took me about 18 years, before I started, anonymously, reaching out to other Christian women. It took me another 5 years, before I actually, truly started realizing what was happening. I then slowly started getting the courage to leave. It took many more abusive situations for me to gather the strength to just get up and leave one early morning.
That was the morning of my freedom! That was the turning point of my life! That was the day that I had all of God’s strength within me! There is so much more that I could write, so many details and examples, but truthfully, this is all of my story for now.
If you or someone you know is going through anything like this, PLEASE reach out to me or to someone you know. I so wish I had confided in others, years before I did. God was with me through it all and has kept me safe. Trust in him and ask for help!
In Christ, Ashley M. Salter
Center for Family Violence Prevention 252-758-4400