What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Rebecca Aske. 

What I want you to know about domestic abuse is that it’s quiet and it looks like love. It looked like he cared – a lot. He cared so much for me that one week after we were married he wanted to help me pick out clothes to wear. He picked out my clothes and flirted with me in the dressing room as he watched me change into the outfits he picked. I want you to know that I was desperate for his attention. I never had a man care about me let alone care about what I wore. He picked out all of my clothes that day. That was the beginning.  
Then he bought me a curling iron and taught me how to use it. He laughed at me when I looked at him in shock and said, “I don’t curl my hair.” “You do now,” he said. “Let me show you how to do it.” He taught me what to wear and he taught me how to do my hair just like he liked it.
I want you to know it got worse and I didn’t even see it.  
I thought it was love, but it was control and power and it grew in every area. He “taught” me how to clean house. I learned how to vacuum with the lines in the carpet all going the same way and making a pattern. He wanted to see this pattern each day when he would come home from work. I learned how to organize a pantry with all of the cans that were similar next to each and facing forward. (Remember Sleeping with the Enemy?)
I want you to know that he began to leave me lists on how the house was to be cleaned each day before he left for work and when he would come home he would run his finger along the highest shelf to check for dust. I want you to know that I did not think I was being abused. I thought I was being submissive. And when he punished me for being “disobedient” I thought I deserved it. He threw the dishes against the wall because they were not cleaned properly. He ripped my necklace off of my neck as he stood next to me on the porch raging at me that I had locked us out of the house on accident. 
He told me I could no longer see my friends or family because they were against him. I never left the house without his permission. When I went into labor with his daughter, he told me I had woken him from his much needed sleep and that I just needed to sit in a warm tub for a while, which I did. He told me that if I had enough faith my labor would be easy. (I had little faith apparently after three days of labor ended in a C-Section). He called our daughter a “Little Satan” when she would cry. I tried everything to avoid her tears.

I want you to know that each time he drove the car (I was not capable of driving) I was to navigate. And if I gave a wrong turn I was kicked out of the car and had to walk home. No matter how far, no matter how dark, and sometimes with our infant baby girl with me. One time I had to walk back to our hotel room in a strange town after dark with my 6 month old baby girl and I thought this was ok, because I had not given him the right directions. When I arrived at the hotel he hit me and told me to go to bed.

I want you to know that when I didn’t want to have sex he would rape me. I felt that because I was his wife it was ok because I had failed in my marital duty. I want you to know that our church said he was right in doing this and that I should submit more. I thought I deserved being shoved up against a wall and being spit in my face for making him mad and I want you to know that our church said I had no biblical grounds for separation or divorce because he had not cheated on me. I want you to know that being spit in the face is worse than being hit and that he spit on me a lot.

I want you to know that he left me on a weekend and turned off our power, water, cable and phone. He told me he was done with our marriage. That I had not been a good wife, Christian, or mother and that he would take my baby girl from me. I want you to know that my church said to still submit because a quiet woman will win her husband. I want you to know that I still begged him to come back because I was in the midst of a “Stockholm syndrome” and I didn’t tell anyone anything that was going on because I didn’t want to ruin his good standing in the church or community.

I want you to know I filed for divorce when he left me with the help of a friend. I couldn’t drive because I had not driven in four years. I did not know how to dress myself or do my hair the way I wanted. I went into hiding. I found myself without the church because they did not help, but instead blamed me.

I want you to know that I am ok now. I found out who I am and what I like to wear, and I will never organize my pantry and will always wear my hair straight unless I want it curly, and I found a church that told me, “I am loved, and love does not look like the way he loved me.” I want you to listen to the voices of women and to hear the whisper of the woman who can no longer speak. It took me a very long time to find my voice but there were a few that saw my face when I could not even whisper. I want you to know that you are important to the woman who has no voice. I also want you to know that after all of this, I raised my daughter by myself. I went back to school and received my BA in Ministry Leadership. I want you to know that I am a published author and speaker. I want you to know I found my voice.