(By: Raelynda Nievar)

I have suffered 26 plus years of abuse ranging from sexual, mental and physical, from a step father to a sadistic ex-husband that in the end kept me locked up in a house for six years, and boyfriends after that. There are so many things I have buried inside of me. I have had fear of attics which is what my night terrors are of. I was never able to let them out because in doing so I would have to relive them and that was something that I had a hard time doing. I had created my own hell because having buried them and so many of them, they still came out when I wasn't aware or awake to keep them suppressed. It has been over 26 years that I've actually slept through the night, because of the night terrors.

I was nine years old when my Mom married my step father who was an alcoholic. He abused my mother and me mainly. My Mother started drinking when she had met him and would often look the other way when things went wrong. When he would be mad at her and start hitting on her she would look to me for help. Not that a little kid could do much, but I tried and I found that if I interrupted him hitting my mom it would advert his attentions off of her and onto me, therefore ending her abuse at that moment and starting mine. 

Only four people in my family believed me about him coming into my bedroom at night and the things he was doing to me. One incident still sticks with me to this day so I am hoping that in sharing it with you it gives you encouragement in knowing that you are not alone. I came home from school one day and my mother was sitting at the kitchen table. I could tell she was upset and scared so I sat down to talk to her. My mother said, "No matter what happens don't leave me alone with him," so I said, "Okay." 

I was her protector. My stepfather came flying into the drive and into the house. He sat down at the kitchen table and looked at me. He said for me to go to my room, so I looked to my mother and she shook her head no. So trying to be brave I told him, "No." This happened three more times -- my looking to guidance from my mother, and each time she stated no so it remained my answer. My step father jerked me up out of the chair by one arm and took off his belt with the other. I am from Texas so you know the big buckles with the hook in them. That's what he was using to beat me with. He held onto my one hand and swung that belt buckle repeatedly with the steel buckle making contact with my backside each time from the backs of my knees to just below my shoulders. I was terrified. I was a twelve year old child only doing what her mother had asked her to do and here I was running in circles while this man beat me for it. 

At one point when he made contact. The claw of the buckle dug into my thigh ripping tissue and flesh. I ran behind my mother as would any child and when he advanced onto her she turned and grabbed me by the upper arms and placed me in front of her almost as a shield. My heart seemed to of died that day. I looked into her eyes and would not let her break eye contact with me. I kept searching for something - anything in her eyes - with each hit of the belt I received. I was numb to it all ... not feeling anything anymore. 

After that I continuously kept trying to run away,  and finally managed to do so,  but in running away from him I ran straight into the devil himself. 

My stepfather was a cakewalk compared to my ex-husband. There are so many things that I suffered at the hands of this man; too many to tell you right now, but I will tell you of the main one that made me question and lose my faith in God.

I was kept basically a prisoner in our home and by this I mean he boarded the windows, installed key bolt locks and would take the phone cord with him every time he left the house. He would place my dog, my only and best friend in the house with me when he would leave. Now this is a huge thoroughbred white German Shepard named Prince. Prince would be locked inside with me for eight hours or days at a time and as you all know they have to go to the bathroom eventually. I would do everything I could to keep it cleaned up and the smell out of the house the best I could but it didn't matter even if he didn't smell anything he would find something to punish me over. 

My biggest fear was being taken to the attic. If he didn't receive satisfaction in my daily beatings then he would drag me to the attic and hang me by my hands by the beams. Sometimes just a few hours, sometimes days. I knew at this point that the only way I would ever gain freedom was going to be through my death. It was one of these days of being locked in that he came home late one night. He was screaming at Prince for defecating in the house. He had this weapon. It was a wooden ax handle he had taped at both ends and he picked it up and started beating Prince with it. I wasn't thinking; I just reacted and I threw myself over Prince's body to shield him with mine and I looked up at my ex-husband and I knew when he smiled that I had screwed up. I buried my face into Prince's fur as my ex husband started swinging the ax handle. He connected with my side numerous times from my hip to my rib cage. Pain began searing through me. 

He broke three of my ribs. Never having felt that type of pain and not being able to breathe, I just knew I was dying. As I started blacking out from the pain, I thought: This is it, I'm free, and I smiled. 

Well, all the smile got me was anger from my Ex and a swift kick to my backside with steel toed boots and he cracked my tail bone in the process.

I came to, but barely able to breathe and in excruciating pain. My Ex was taping up my ribs with silver tape. The feelings of anger, abandonment and yes resentment were overwhelming. I couldn't understand what I had done that was so bad that God would not take me home with him. Why had He left me in this world to suffer at the hands of this man. I was so angry with God.

Eventually - years later escaped my ex-husband. I had to hide for almost a year before I was free from him. From then until now I have carried all these scars and pain buried inside of me. The hurt and anger towards God for what I felt of being abandoned. I did not even trust myself for fear it would lead me into heartache I couldn't bear. I begged, I cried and pleaded with God for someone to love me.  That was the only thing I ever prayed for for over 26 years was just to be loved and for that long I felt abandoned. There were so many things that I missed out on and things that I just couldn't do; certain movies I couldn't watch. I have dealt with depression, being ashamed of what happened to me, feelings of anxiety and always questioning what I did that was so wrong. I had no direction in life. I felt so small and inadequate with life in general.

I met John six months ago (2012) and I loved him instantly. You just know when you are with the right one -- the one meant for you, but I was scared of what I felt so I pushed him away and was doing the only thing I knew how to do ... Run. 

I was torn. I wanted to be with this man, a Godly man, but I was so scared of the pain of being hurt that I jeopardized what God was giving me, not even realizing that this was coming from Him in the first place. I had plans on going so far as to leave the country and go to Scotland. I had it all setup and would be leaving just four months later. Thankfully, John is a stubbornly persistent man and he never gave up.

John knew I was broken, so to say. Gradually I would speak about my horrors and I would listen to him. I wanted to be with him but once again my past was surfacing in a real way to affect my decisions. I was scared to trust in him and scared of following my heart. I realized no matter what, whether it was heartache or happiness, I would never know if I didn't try. I wanted to be with him the rest of my life. John always says, "God first in everything we do".

John told me what Emmaus had done for him and I asked him if he thought it would help me, before the day was out I was signed up for the next walk:  #191.

Emmaus was the greatest. I wasn't able to rid myself of all of my past pain, but I was able to rid the wall that held everything in. One of the workers - I will never forget her - she came in late that first night, given that I don't sleep. I was in the chapel when I met her and we talked. She opened my eyes up to a different way of looking at my horrors that lay buried. She said, "God didn't abandon you during your time of need. He wrapped his arms around you and kept you from dying." She went on to say, "I know there are things that happened to you that were so horrendous -- that only by the grace of God did you survive." She continued ... "He has a plan for you. There was a reason you went through all that."

It opened not only my eyes but my heart up to a new way of looking at it. Emmaus gave me the tools to continue working on it into my fourth day. Don't get me wrong; nothing is a quick fix but it is workable. 

From where I was at five months ago to where I am now is a tremendous change. There are still movies or shows that I cannot watch still and every now and then I am bothered by the night terrors, but for the most part, I sleep through the night, not all night but good enough. I'm trusting the Lord to deliver and heal me completely in that area.

Since I was 15, I begged God for a man like John. I use to lay there and cry, pray and plead for someone to love me. It might have taken 26 years, but He listened. God has no sense of time as we do but He knows when the time is right for each of us.

I am so thankful and full of awe at Gods loving grace; at being introduced to Christian Hope, my Church as well as my husband John who put into action all that has bloomed in my life of late. No one can tell me that God doesn't create miracles. You see, God worked through John and he worked through Sammy at Emmaus to put me back on the right path. The path that he chose for me to walk. 

We are the vehicles and God is the driver. With Him driving there is no end to the miracles He can create as long as we give Jesus the wheel.

I now know what I want to be. I want to be a Adolescent Counselor and I pray that God through his Son Jesus Christ allows me to help someone else like I've been helped. Isn't that ultimately what it's all about? Giving others help and hope when they have none?

Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake. 

To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.


JESUS DID IT! and...


Remember:  All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity.
(Matthew 6:19-21 is our assurance)