Leaving Behind a Love That Hurts

“Wanting to have hugs and wanting to have kisses,” remarked Lakeisha, “and wanting to be tucked in bed at night and all those special things you do, you know, with your parents when you're a child.”

These are the things Lakeisha missed most after her parents divorced and her father moved out when she was eight.  

“I started really wanting those things and actually kind of craving those things in a way,” Lakeisha recalled. “I was looking for someone to say, ‘You're pretty.’  I was looking for someone to say, ‘You're amazing.’  I was looking for those words that made me feel like I mattered.”

Lakeisha grew up, and once a teenager, turned to boys and sex for the answer.

“It was fulfilling and satisfying me for a moment. And if I could just feel this all the time, I'll be okay,” Lakeisha said. “They love me.  They love me.  And they want me, they need me, and I need them.  So I became very needy and I started to attach myself to them.  It was a void within me where I would actually cry every single night, ‘What is wrong with me?’”

At 17, she got pregnant.  She was scared, but kept the baby and moved in with the father.

“I thought, ‘this means I'm finally going to be happy,’” Lakeisha said. “I'll have a baby that loves me, I’ll love this child, and me and the father will make this perfect life together and I'll be fixed, everything'll be okay."

The man became unstable, and Lakeisha left.  Her next boyfriend soon became abusive and controlling.

“And it didn’t start off abusive,” Lakeisha remembered, “it started off with him loving me and charming me and buying me gifts and loving my child, my firstborn.”

But Lakeisha stayed, unable to tell the difference between abuse and love.

“It became love in a way.  If he's hitting me, he has to love me,” said Lakeisha. “What is it, is he jealous?  Oh gosh, maybe I did do something to make him feel that way and he just doesn't want to lose me."

The relationship finally ended, but Lakeisha would continue jumping in and out of abusive relationships another 10 years, having three more children along the way.

“My self-esteem is so low; my confidence is shot,” Lakeisha said somberly.  “I remember looking in the mirror, ‘What is wrong with you?’"

One day after another brutal beating, Lakeisha took her children to a home daycare run by Pam Fisher.

“And then when she took the glasses off there was bruises,” remembered Pam. “At that time at that time, that's when you know that she needs the love of Christ more than ever because she had a hard night that night before.”

Lakeisha said about Pam, “She would say, ‘You know, Jesus loves you.  Do you know God cares for you? Do you know you're special? Do you know you're beautiful?’"  

But the words didn’t start sinking in, until Lakeisha’s abuser followed her to Pam’s home.

“He comes in, she (Pam) gets right in the middle of us ‘cause she sees fire is breathing from this man,” said Lakeisha intensely.

“And I told him, ‘No! You're not doing this here,’” said Pam emphatically. “‘You have to go!’"

Lakeisha remembered, “I'm thinking, ‘No, he's about to kill this woman, and then he's going to kill me.’ I saw his fist clench up. She (Pam) planted her feet and she said, ‘You leave my house now!’  And he stood there for a moment and then he backed up, and then he went out the door.  I think at that moment I was like, ‘Wow! 

What kind of power did this woman just have?’ So I'm like, ‘God, it has to be you.’”

“I started believing that I was worthy, that I was special, that someone would love me,” said Lakeisha with hope.  

Lakeisha left her boyfriend and tried to forge a new life.  But she still couldn’t break the cycle and again ended up with an abusive man.  He took it to another level when he put a gun to her head, and threatened to kill her and himself.

“I really think God had put his arms around me at that time,” said Lakeisha. “I said to Him, ‘God, I need you to help me. I need you to help me because I’m scared.’"

“A knock on the door,” Lakeisha said with surprise. “And it was our landlord.  And he said, ‘I need you guys out.  We think that there is a gas line somewhere leaking.’"

Finally, Lakeisha had the courage to take her children and leave.

“I remember that night thanking God, ‘You saved me,’” Lakeisha said.  “As much as I have been unfaithful to you, and you're still standing there with your arms wide open."

In the coming days and weeks, Lakeisha began to understand what Pam had been saying about God’s love for her.

“‘You love me? Me?’” Lakeisha questioned, “‘All this ugly stuff in me? With these men and that man, and fornicating and, children out of wedlock.  You still love me?’

And I couldn’t believe it.  I could not believe that he still was there for me.  And I remember telling Him, ‘God, just use me.  Forgive me, forgive the sins that I've committed, God, save me.’”

Lakeisha started living her life for Christ, and now sees someone very different in the mirror.    

“I see God through me today,” Lakeisha said with confidence. “I see His image in me today.”

Along with her husband Antonio, Lakeisha is raising her five children.  She also helps victims of abuse through a non-profit called “Free”.  Like Pam, she tells them in God’s eyes they’re special, and worthy of His love.

“And I'm telling you, it is so much love,” said a grateful Lakeisha. “To someone who thought she didn't deserve anything, to someone who thought that I won't be anybody.  I'm not going to be anything.  He did all of that for me.”

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