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Yes, there are programs out there, but getting assistance is not that simple, nor is it available to everyone.

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I was working part-time at a grocery store and about 75% of my income went to childcare just so I could go to work. I got little sympathy because mothers are just biologically supposed to be able to handle that stuff.Growing up, there were two things we just didn’t discuss: domestic violence and sex. I don’t remember how long it lasted, just that all I could do was lie there on the floor in the living room and wait for it to pass. I never dreamed he could hurt anyone.[Funny tidbit: The first conversation we ever had was when he’d said something blasphemous, and I felt compelled to help him find God.So when those two worlds collided, I found myself trapped at the center of them, without a voice, too ashamed to tell anyone, and unable to see a way out.” (Heb 12:6). He said it was dark in the kitchen, so he must have “accidentally” gotten one of his mother’s prescription anxiety pills, and I was dumb enough to believe him. [I now have my own prescription anxiety medication, but it doesn’t do anything like that. While I was unable to move, or feel, or talk, he climbed on top of me, and we had sex again. Looking back I wonder: was that sex, or was that rape? He was nice, kind, doting, funny, seemed responsible. I knew he’d had a rough life, but everyone has a past. By the time we got married, he had convinced me it worked. I felt so betrayed when I caught him letting our toddler watch the evolution special on the Discovery Channel and then— gasp— made fun of my Kent Hovind lectures.I surrendered my body to get him to pay the light bill.I surrendered my body to keep him from losing his temper in front of the kids…My grandmother listed things I could just “go get” from government assistance.

People think if you’re a poor single mother, all you have to do is walk into a welfare office and you get free food, free housing, free childcare, free money, a Ferrari, and an i Phone.

to keep him from breaking my only means of transportation…

to stop him from making a scene and humiliating me publicly… so he would give me my phone back or turn the internet back on.

The problem with fundamentalist Christian culture isn’t that it doesn’t teach rape is wrong, but that it doesn’t know what rape actually is. A few times he held me down and tried to put things in me that weren’t part of his anatomy. I told him over and over I couldn’t stand that, but he did it any way. It got worse when I stopped trying, but I still wasn’t being abused like those women on TV were. He said something like, “Just be still, it will just take a minute.” Then he finished and went back downstairs. He’d threaten (and actually start to) watch porn in front of the kids if I didn’t have sex with him, so I did.

In my mind, if it wasn’t violent or you didn’t cry for help, that wasn’t rape, that was fornication. I didn’t say no for a long time, but I didn’t want it, either. Sure he screamed and cursed, called names, spied on me, stalked my church, broke my phone with his teeth, ripped phone cords out of the wall, messed with my car engine, locked me out of the house with the kid inside until I agreed to his terms, threatened my family, followed me to another town and made a big scene screaming he wouldn’t leave until I went with him, hacked into my Facebook account and messaged people pretending to be me, threw things, broke things, punched holes in the walls, and so on. I really, really tried, but eventually, even the thought of him near me made me cringe. I even suggested a prostitute if it would just make him leave me alone. After almost three years of marriage, I finally realized I had been raped. I began complaining about some of these things, but people thought I was just being a “helicopter mom.”“He’s their father,” they would say. I made him go to counseling with me, but all he got out of it was that I should have sex more. I had used my life savings to buy our house, and aside from that, I had been pregnant, breastfeeding, or both the entirety of our marriage.

As long as he only hurt me in that way, I wasn’t really being abused. The sheriff who responded to my 911 call a year later told me something that really should be common knowledge. Sarah called her husband “lord,” she’d remind me again.