“A Victim… Raised up to be a Victor”

Who am I? was the question my face mustered the courage to finally look at myself in the mirror, and ask, “Why am I enduring this abuse? Why am I being victimized by someone who is supposed to cherish me?”

The response from within suggested my identity was my age. I heard, “you are thirteen, you are sixteen, you are twenty-one, you are twenty-five, you are thirty.”

The deeper, knowing, inner voice responded “No, who am I?”

From a source beyond myself came the declaration, “You are a girl, you are a woman, you are a student, you are successful, you are beautiful, you are loved!”

“Don’t you see?” I responded to the God-voice inside of me, and I answered, “No, I don’t see anything; I don’t see what you see!”

When I looked at my face, when I had the courage to glance at my mirror, I saw nothing that my “God voice” had declared me to be. Instead, I saw fear, hurt, regret, and no hope for an improved future outlook on life.

The quagmire of my downward spiral began when I was thirteen—when I left the only world I knew in the Caribbean, to be with my mom and my brother in the Mainland United States. I was happy, yet at the same time, afraid, of all I would encounter: meeting new friends, adjusting to the new place, and different culture, I now called home.

By the grace of God and His unseen hand upon me, I persevered. I graduated from high school at 15, and anticipated a bright future, but disappointment lurked around the corner.

At 16, my self-worth and sense of reality was shaken and undermined, when I was raped by someone I trusted. The experience left me bruised physically, mentally and emotionally—but camouflaged the scars because I was well known in our community, and I had an image to protect with my cool friends. At 16, I began to learn the art of “faking it.”

I lost the truth of real living. Being beaten by the one who betrayed me also became part of the destructive ritual that had become my “norm” — my reality.

At 21, the torrential downpour of abuse continued. I feared for my life–more than once, death was a breath away. Though I lived through rape, a loveless marriage and eventually found the courage to divorce the abuser I had married, I really didn’t want to live anymore. Thoughts of suicide plagued my mind. But God sustained me through the support of my brother and family. Because I saw His love through them, I stood firm and held tightly to hope.

At 25, I wasn’t alone anymore I had a baby daughter in my arms, I introduced her as my miracle, she was the reason I was alive. Without my daughter I had no reason to hold to life. I had other purpose to live, but she was my reason to be on this earth. I purposed in my heart she was not going to become like me. She was not going to become a prey to the wickedness of the world. She would be shielded behind the fortress of my love.

She was my miracle. She was not just the miracle that had given purpose to my life, she was a literal miracle. I had been told that I could not have children. And although she was conceived in the worst times, although her life began in a home where verbal and mental abuse were a daily routine, the miracle of her life turned my eyes to the Author of life. From her conception I had to fight for both our lives and was willing to give up mine for hers, but I praise the Christ I did not know then that His hand of protection was upon me – and upon my precious baby girl.

Depression lurked deep within me and it resurfaced with a vengeance soon after her birth. Because I felt unworthy to be the mother of this beautiful angel, I attempted suicide; but again, I lived and dedicated my life to fighting for her—though I believed in the depth of my despair that my dreams were over, I persevered to give her the life I never had, a home with both parents— I persevered and stayed.

At thirty, my mirror followed me to a new place, a newly built home. I again found myself pregnant, with my son, and though I rejoiced in his impending birth I was still totally broken within. Again, I had to fight; I had to fight for his life, fight through three surgeries, bed rest for 8 months. I prayed, asking God, please save his life, give me “my Samuel,” give me my “ask of God.” God gave me a second chance at motherhood. It was a chance to correct my past failure and to be strong for my daughter and strong for my son.

Given I was still the victim of domestic verbal and mental abuse, I was faced with the question, “do I stay or do I go?” I found the question hard to answer as I considered that the children were being provided everything, they needed and I considered, moreover, “should I continue to abandon my self-worth in order to give my children the life they deserved; after all, he is abusing me not them” … so, I thought. Yet, I had begun to admit to myself that I had allowed him to break my spirit; I was unable to get beyond his painful words; and I was lost from the emotional pain. Finally, I concluded, “I have no money, I have given up my job to be at home with my children, I have nowhere to turn, and no way out;” so I stayed! Three more years, I stayed…

But then FREEDOM, I had to stop lying to myself, I had to stop hurting my children, they were beginning to see how broken our home was, they saw my tears, they asked why didn’t daddy come home. I saw fear and confusion in their eyes. I had to choose freedom… freedom for US, body and soul, but not without a price. On that that day when I closed the door to the past, I had to come face-to-face with the accurate reflection of myself the mirror. I had to face the truth of my brokenness, I had to heal. I knew that I could not overcome this onslaught of pain that had befallen me on my own—I had to seek help, I had to find myself and my purpose. I had to forgive myself, and I had to become transparent and bare my soul before I could honestly live free for me and my children.

Healing from abuse starts from within. While outer scars heal by nature, inner healing only takes place when we allow God to come into our turmoil and healing us from the inside out. Then by His mercy and grace, minute by minute, hour by hour, I began to stand, not as a victim of abuse but as a victor who has overcome abuse by the grace and the love of an unconditional loving God.

So here I am, standing as living proof that by God’s amazing love, freedom is possible and we can be free. Though the storms of life continued, though the Road to Freedom was not easy, though the journey was arduous, I cannot deny the wonder of God’s loving hand upon my life that has brought me from a pit of pain and misery to a pinnacle of His grace and goodness. I’m amazed that I’m still here, but I know that I stand because the God who fashioned heaven and earth, the God who causes light to prevail over darkness, the God who bids us choose life over death, had a plan for my life that went far beyond what that little girl from the Caribbean could have ever imagined.

In an abusive relationship, your heart, your mind, your life are stripped from you. Every day is a battle to survive, fighting for your life, to breathe, to live, to see another day. You adapt to your abuser’s needs, all at the expense of losing yourself, your mind, your will to live free—losing your will to live free from fear.

My desire is for you to be free, free from the pain of your past, from the pain of your present. From my heart, I know where you’ve been; I know where you are. For over 19 years of my life, I was abused, came close to death by one’s hands. I’ve been beaten, raped, pushed aside, suffered through pain, agony, and through it all, I live to say I survived. I want you to live!!! Be silent no more!

You can rebuild, repair, and restore your life. Every place in your life that feels broken can be fixed. There is no miracle drug to fix your pain, but there is a MIRACLE WORKING GOD who can free you, who can heal your pain. I cried out to God in despair and desperation. I went to His word and found scriptures that spoke to my situation.

Today is not your end; it is your beginning! This is your time to heal, to forgive, and to allow God to repair your brokenness.

Today is the end of your confusion, your anxiety, your fear, and it is the beginning of your newness in Christ! It is your beginning of transition from despair into HOPE.

You may have questions, why me? Why is this happening to me? Why do I have to go through this storm? Why do I stay? Very real questions and questions I asked myself many times. And when you are free, you will discover that these questions no longer require answers because the “new you” has traveled the Road to Freedom far beyond your former residence in the Pit of Despair.

What did I do to overcome? Honestly, I felt like I didn’t have the strength to go on and many times I wanted to give up, I said: “What’s the use in trying?” It took coming to a place of realization that my pain could be dissolved by the hand of God who gave me clarity of mind and love within my heart, Jesus, in His power and in His love will enable you to overcome just as He empowered me to overcome. He is no respecter of persons! He will deliver you as He delivered me!

Restoration didn’t happen overnight, I messed up, I regressed, I doubted, I made mistakes–repeatedly. But day by day, grace by grace, I regained my strength, I regained my mind, I regained my self-worth, God restored me, and I recovered my will to live.

YOU too can look in the MIRROR at your true reflection and recover your purpose, find hope and your will to LIVE. Jesus loves you. Jesus died for you. Jesus died to set you free from sin and destruction. Don’t turn your back on His amazing gift.

– Samantha N. Barber

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, there are many organizations who can provide help in the DMV area: