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And often all that is left
are the memories.

I remember
My childhood –
How I loved Sunday School
Teaching my dolls the lesson
When I returned home.

I remember
Attending the Christian School
Memorizing scripture, praying
And singing Jesus Loves Me.

I remember
Being a good girl
Obedient, spiritual, loving
Making my parents proud.

I remember
Dating a Christian man,
Marrying in the church,
Difficulty pleasing my husband.

I remember
Starting a family,
Baptizing our sons and
Raising them in the church.

I remember
Their Daddy being angry every day.
Scared when he came home from work
What mood would he be in.

I remember…
Being told I was a bad wife
and a bad mother.
What he said I was – I was
So it must be true.

I remember
How He controlled my life
I tried hard to please him
So the kids and I would be safe.

I remember
The boys questioned,
Do we have to kiss him good night?
He’s mean to us. I told them,
Yes, Jesus wants us to be loving.
Then we don’t like Jesus anymore.

I remember…
So difficult to admit we are being abused.
So we hid it from everyone.
Because silence hides violence.

I remember
How the abuse affected my sons
I became desperate for help.
Nowhere to turn.

I remember
Going to my pastor for help.
Please tell me what God wants me to do,  
To keep us from harm.

I remember
He said, your husband is a respected Christian man.
He is the head of your home.
You cannot divorce him.
Silence hides violence.

I remember
How my sons were thrown, kicked, punched,
emotionally and verbally abused.
My sons lied about their bruises
to protect their father.    
Silence hides violence.

I remember how
Their physical bruises eventually healed.
But their emotional scars left holes in their hearts forever.
When silence hides violence.

I remember
Their psychological anguish
Depression and anxiety,
Treated by drugs and alcohol.
Anything to soothe the pain.

I remember
Finding my sons’ dead bodies
Both of them overdosed
To fill the holes in their hearts.

I remember
Ushering their body bags to the medical examiner’s van,
Saying I am sorry I did not protect you.
You are safe now in the arms of Jesus.

The church must be our hope. 
Teaching families to respect each other
As God’s temples.
To make a difference
in the wounded hearts of children and adults.
Then no more will silence hide violence.

Sharing my story to the honor and glory of God.
My survival story made possible
Through God’s mercy, strength, love, and grace.
May other victims survive in Jesus’ name.


Ms. Boelens-Groen: Your poem pierced my heart. I could feel your agony in your words, and understand your plea to churches for help and to make a difference. Churches must provide a safe place where abuse victims and concerned others can break their silence. Thank you for sharing your story. May God bless you.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Nancy  Boelens-Groen,
What a lot of pain. I am so sorry for all you have suffered and lost.
I am sorry your church let you down.
I am sorry you did not have a safe place to go with your sons.
Thank-you for sharing the truth that so many of us hide.
May you receive comfort and peace  from our Lord 
May your words educate others.
From Jill

Nancy, thank you for sharing your story and your pain. I pray that you have finally found a safe place, church and community. May God continue to be your healer and your comforter. We have so much to do yet in breaking down the stigma around domestic violence and becoming safe places. I'm so sorry for all you have gone through especially at the hands of the church

Hi Nancy,

Words cannot express how sorry I am for what you and your boys have gone through.  I am so sorry for how the church has let you down. My heart breaks for you and for what your boys experienced.   I pray your sharing will urges us all on to learn more about domestic violence and to respond differently.  May God protect and give you the strength and grace you need.



Thank you so much Nancy! Many of us were privileged to hear a bit more of your story in person at the Safe Church conference in 2012, and at another safe church event in the Hamilton area in Canada the next year. There have been many other contexts in which you have been willing and able to share your story, for the benefit of others, to help us, to help the Church, understand domestic abuse. Your courage in sharing, and the hope that lives in you is a beautiful testimony to God's redemptive love actively working in your life. Thanks again!

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