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  • Writer's pictureBrandi Bourne

Breaking the cycle




***Trigger warning***

Some of the things shared in this blog post are a bit intense, especially for anyone who has survived domestic violence. I have no intention of causing any harm or bad memories, so if you are not able to handle hearing stories about this, this is your warning about the contents of this blog post.


Also, if you are related to the other party in this situation, please know that I do not harbor any resentment (pretty sure y’all already know this though), but this story will be shared for the sake of those who are still in this situation or maybe recently got out of it.


Tonight, I had the opportunity to spend time with the Lord with folks I consider family, and a few new faces too. It was a beautiful time with Him that was intimate, one where He spoke to all of us. While I did receive a word tonight and I am grateful for that encouragement, God spoke something else to me. I know that He has been asking me to share more about my testimony, so this went right in line with that.


So, I’m sure by now you’re wondering “ok what’s up with the mud on your pants though that’s an odd picture.” So, as I was sitting in the room, I looked down and saw that I had this mud caked on and I instantly had a flash back. There are still certain things that trigger these “flashbacks.” My heart started beating a little harder, head spun for a moment and I was brought back to the day that Lennon and I left our home, 7 years ago. At that time, I was in an abusive relationship. There are many things that I went through during that time that I haven’t shared with anyone and given how things are now, I will probably not for the sake of others involved unless the Lord says otherwise. But this story I will share. And it has more detail than I have ever shared publicly. Though some of this story is in my book, "From Darkness to Light: Stepping Out From the Shadows of Depression." (https://a.co/d/bVkSDcG)


We had been without a car for around 8 months. It was wrecked shortly after Lennon was born by "J" turning a corner too fast in the rain. I had left with Lennon around July of the prior year, but I concluded that I could not make it on my own with Lennon and he would be better off with a stable income. Plus, I had fallen for the promise that “everything would be better” and “we could work things out.” What I didn’t realize was that things were going to get MUCH worse. The abuse now took all of the forms. It happened more frequently. "J" absolutely hated me at this point and made that very clear. Death threats started. He would take off all night, sometimes not coming home for 2 days or more at a time. I would have no idea if he was ok because he wouldn't answer his phone. I was stranded with no vehicle and no income. I cannot even describe what all of that was like.


So here I was sitting in the house on a Sunday, “J” was off work and home playing video games while his daughter was playing in the spare room we had gotten for her when she would come visit. It was around lunch time for Lennon and I went into the kitchen to grab some food. I then realized that we ran out of baby food, and I panicked. I started calling and texting people trying to find a way to get to the store. I asked “J” if he could call his friend who he often took off with to take us to the store and he refused. I kept pushing and at that time I dealt with high anxiety, so I was in tears, heart racing, desperate to find a way to feed my kid. “J” just kept playing video games. I told him if I had to, I would walk to the store (the closest grocery store was FAR, out of curiosity I just looked up the walk now it would have taken 2 hours and 22 minutes one direction).


Now what happened exactly after that was a blur, but I do remember both of us screaming at each other, and next thing I knew I had a .22 pointed at my head. In that moment, my life flashed before my eyes, and I was certain this was it. Now interestingly enough, I was still dealing with suicidal thoughts during this time. But in that moment, I decided I wanted to live. I took off out the door before he could fire a shot. Now I knew he would never harm his son, so grabbing Lennon was not even an instinctual response. He had however threatened many times to kill me and take our son so he would not have to deal with me anymore and they could both live a peaceful life. And there were moments that I almost made that happen, convinced that I was the problem. But that day, I ran.


I ran behind our landlord’s trailer that was also on the property. The landlords who had no idea the hell I had been going through for the last 2 years there. It had been raining and within a minute of running my shoes and pants were soaked and covered in mud from the knee down. I had my cell phone in my pocket and called 911. I explained that he was armed, and I was concerned he would start firing at the officers. He had told me before he would die before he went to jail. Now quick side note here. 7 months prior, not too long after the car was wrecked, I had a suicide attempt in which officers were called to the scene, and I was taken to the hospital. I had taken everything I could find in the cabinets - including an entire bottle of 800mg ibuprofen and a full bottle of "Norcos" that were prescribed to me. (There's a testimony in that too though, how they never pumped my stomach, never even hooked me to the heart monitor/IV but stuck someone in my room to make sure I wouldn't try again. I should not have survived that - but God.) I was not committed, but that incident stayed on record. I was not even thinking about that incident when they showed up.


I explained the situation to them, and how my son and his daughter were inside. I again told them that he was not in his right mind and could potentially start shooting at them, but they didn't seem to care too much about that. They told me to get in the car. Now I do not remember when but at some point, we got the kids over to the landlord’s house and safe. But I ended up sitting in the back of that patrol car wondering why I was even in there. One of the two officers eventually opened the door and told me the story “J” had told them. He told them that I tried to grab the gun and threatened to kill myself, so he took it from me, and I ran out the door. They asked me about the attempt I had months prior. They gave me the incident report to fill out and closed the door. I was convinced that day I was going to the mental hospital. I would be committed, and I would never see my son again. He would convince the courts I was crazy and that would be it. Something he had threatened before as well. I looked at the mud on my pants and cried. I felt completely hopeless.


One of the officers opened the door again and took the report from me. He looked me in the eyes, and he said the only reason they believed my story was because of the mud on my pants. They said that was their evidence that I indeed had fled the house. They asked if I wanted to press charges and I said no. I just wanted to get my son, my things and leave. But the state picked up the charges and "J" was taken away. I was gripped with fear at that point because I already knew how this was going to go down. He wouldn’t be in jail long, especially with only one minor charge in his past and that was something like public intoxication. I figured he would come home, finish the job and no one would know the wiser. I called and texted every person I could think of to help me. Some said they couldn’t. Some didn’t answer. And it was in that moment that I sat in the chair holding my 8-month-old son and I wept. Out of my mouth came a prayer, “God if you are real, I need you to show me now.” As I finished that sentence, my phone rang. It was a friend calling back, one who I intended to move in with as soon as I could get away a second time. She told me the bad news first – they had rented the extra room. Then she told me that they would get me, and I could crash on their couch for 3 days, but I would have to find a place to go. They came and I grabbed everything I could to go in their car and they said we could come back later for the rest. That night was the first time in a long time that I slept without fear, though I was still anxious about what would come next.


                The next 2 days were also a blur, but I remember going back to get whatever things I could and profusely apologizing to the kind landlords about the situation. And I remember calling a place called the East Texas Dream Center and filling out the paperwork for that. By day three, I was into that discipleship program. And it was that night, February 1st of 2017, at a Wednesday service at Lakewood church, that I gave my life to Christ. That was the most important day of my life.


                So, as I sat there, staring at the mud on my pants tonight, I began to smile. Because this time, the mud was not from fleeing a situation. It was not from a time when I didn’t know Christ. No, it was from doing homeless outreach that morning. Walking to a patch of woods where our friend Eduardo stays, with my team. It was from an effort to reach someone with the love of Jesus, and this time offering the hope of a possible solution in the future to help him get into a home. That mud represented my new life with Jesus. How He truly worked all things out for good for us. How He rescued us not just from physical danger, but from the very real spiritual danger of hell. The mud on my pants January 29th 2017 represented freedom, though I didnt know that then. But the mud I saw today reminded me of the first Scripture God gave me, the one I’ve called my “life Scripture” since then. Genesis 50:20. “For you intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” (NLT) God gave me the best word He could have tonight in looking at that mud. He showed me by how following Him and doing His work, I was now a part of Him rescuing others. He reminded me that it is all worth it and that He still fights for me. He will always be my defender so I can stop trying to be the hero that’s “got this.” I have my “armor” on. I am holding my shield of faith. I am walking in obedience to Him. I’m quite far from perfect, that’s for sure. I still have flaws, hang-ups, things I’m walking though, lessons I am learning. I still deal with anxiety. But I am walking through all of that with Him. And with a pretty awesome spiritual family too.


                I know I am not the only one who has gone through the hell of domestic violence. There are people who will read this and will be in the same position – not sure how to get out, not sure how to make it outside of that financial support, even some who are being drawn back in like I was to the lie that everything will be different this time. But I am here to show you that you can break the cycle. That there is a way out. I’m living in it, 7 years later. I have a stable job, a vehicle, and a home we rent in one of the best school districts in the area. My son is flourishing, getting straight A’s and he truly has a relationship with Jesus. He is no longer dealing with anger problems (though we did go through some of those in the past). I have walked through more healing than I could have imagined. Though I still have more to go. All of this by the grace of God and for His glory.


There may be some of you who are facing life situations that are “trapping” you right now. There is a way out. And that way out is with Jesus. But it’s going to take courage on your part. It’s going to take a willingness to walk away and not go back until the Lord says otherwise. It’s going to take you saying no to the manipulation, to the lies of the enemy. Jesus will be with you through it all. If you’ve invited Him in, He’s there with you now. Please know that if you are in this situation, I will do everything in my power to help you out – if you want that. I have many contacts and some ways to get people out of those situations. I’m also here if you need to talk – but I will tell you up front that while I am here to listen, I am also here to assure your safety and I will be open with you about my stance on this. I will not give advice to someone who does not want it. And I will not enable you to continue in a lifestyle that is dangerous. But I will encourage you in the best way I can to seek God through it all.


I also want to leave the domestic violence hotline for those who may not be in the local area. That number is: 800-799-SAFE (7233). You can also text “START” to 88788. The website is: https://www.thehotline.org/?utm_source=youtube&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=domestic_violence


And another resource, for anyone who is dealing with suicidal thoughts. You can now dial “988” to be connected to that line. You can also text that line as well. The website is: https://988lifeline.org/chat/ 


Whatever you do, if you need it, please seek help. Please know that you are so very loved, by your Creator but also but people in your life. There are people who are depending on you. There are people depending on your testimony. If you were looking for a sign -here it is. You matter. You are loved. Don't you give up. You are resilient. You are a warrior. You can make it - with the help of God of course.


This morning I feel the need to add that I have forgiven "J" for his actions. We are not reconciled per se, but we do now have conversations via phone and have for a few years now, for the sake of his son. Soon I will be going to visit him for the first time since that day. And on that day I will look at him with love and forgiveness. Not the same love I had for him years ago of course. But the love that comes from God. I do intend to seek council and prayer before I go. But please understand that again forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things entirely.

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