"I had always been one of those skeptics who wondered why women don’t just leave abusive relationships, even though I was in one for more than a decade, until my life blew up and I found myself sifting through ashes of what had been. Quietly, almost tiptoeing, women from my church helped me pack my household into storage until all that remained was one suitcase apiece for my children and myself. It hit me that every woman who showed up had experienced something similar herself. Each one had suffered great loss, and together they rallied around me to simply do what needed to be done.
For the next four months my children and I were homeless as we floated from family to friend, waiting for a house to live in. The uncertainty was overwhelming. I lost twenty pounds. My hair started falling out in clumps. And yet, God held us together.
As excruciating as it was, I realized that other women had it harder. I had two degrees, a paid off vehicle in my own name, a professional work wardrobe, supportive family and friends, healthy children. And I realized why so many women don’t leave- because of fear. Because leaping out into the unknown — even to escape a toxic environment — means leaving the familiar. And it’s terrifying. Paralyzing, even.
I also realized just how much God was comforting me, providing for me, protecting me. That’s why I’ve dedicated my journey in the years since to coaching and mentoring abused Adventist women who have no voice. Because some things you simply can’t understand unless you’ve lived it — and found the grace and hope and healing that waits on the other side."
Sarah McDugal is a Christian author, brand strategist, speaker, and abuse recovery coach.