EP 95: When Your Church Prays For You, But Won’t Help You: Donna Wayles

Diana WinklerDomestic Violence Leave a Comment

Donna’s husband was trying to kill her. He has attempted it before by throwing her down a flight of stairs. So you would expect that the pastor would provide her a safe place to stay, but he only offered to pray for her. Come follow her riveting story through dating, not seeing the red flags, a physically and emotionally abusive marriage, and finally finding real help from fellow Navy wives. Donna also shares what it was like serving on a mission’s trip in Hawaii, and eating spam burgers at a Hawaiian McDonald’s! Join us for this powerful story.

Transcript below!


After years of abuse by my Christian husband, I escaped finding God’s love and grace in second chances. I share my experiences in my book, I’ll Pray for You: A Christian Woman’s Guide to Surviving Domestic Abuse. My book’s life lessons have already inspired audiences around the United States, and the world, to heal and help others find hope. In addition to being a conference speaker and podcast guest, my writing has been published in Divine Purpose Magazine.

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I encourage the audience to talk to their friends and neighbors, and then really listen. Show them some kindness. Begin by helping those nearest to you and challenge those people to help someone else. Let our kindness change the world, one person at a time and one action at a time.

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Donna Wayles

[00:00:00] Diana Winkler: Hey everybody. How are you doing? Come on in. How’s your week going? I started my temp contract job today. I think it went really well. Still adjusting to going into an office, but grateful for the income coming in until I get something more permanent. But today, we got a great show for you. Another survivor story.

[00:00:38] I heard my guest today on another podcast that I listened to regularly and I thought, oh, her story is so good. I’ve gotta have her on the show. So I have today, Donna Wayles.

[00:00:56] And I’m [00:01:00] going to read a little bit about her bio here.

[00:01:05] Let’s get to know Donna a little bit here. She says after years of abuse by my Christian husband, I escaped finding God’s love and grace. And second chances. I share my experiences in my book, “I’ll Pray For You”, a Christian woman’s guide to surviving domestic abuse. My books, life lessons have already inspired audiences around the United States and the world

[00:01:38] to heal and help others find hope. In addition to being a conference speaker and podcast guest, my writing has been published in Divine Purpose Magazine.

[00:01:52] So I don’t want to delay any further

[00:01:57] as I wanna get for as much time as [00:02:00] possible to tell her story. So here’s my interview with Donna Wayles.

[00:02:08] Please welcome Donna Wayles to the show! Thank you so much for coming on today.

[00:02:15] Donna Wayles: Thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate it. I’m so glad I saw you on our Pod Match service. I had heard you on another podcast that I listened to all the time and I was so riveted by your story. And it’s so powerful.

[00:02:31] And so I’m glad to have you here and we’re gonna get to know you a little bit better.

[00:02:37] Yes. I appreciate that. That this is a great opportunity and I appreciate your work with, letting domestic violence victims share their story. And there’s so much power in sharing because as that evil, it just thrives in the darkness.

[00:02:55] And when we call it out it becomes, I won’t say [00:03:00] less scary. But then there’s more support and encouragement together.

[00:03:05] Diana Winkler: Absolutely. We gotta stick together. I heard that you are a choir gal. I’m a huge choir gal myself. My current church doesn’t have a choir, but you like to sing in the choir?

[00:03:18] Donna Wayles: I used to sing in the choir. I grew up in a Christian school and I was, I tried to do everything.

[00:03:25] I was the people pleaser. In sixth grade I joined the choir. I was all of 12 and the church choir and all those kind of things and singing in the competitions for our Christian school and that kind of thing. But as I sat in my principal’s office with my mom, it was the summer of my junior year going into my senior year. The Christian school principal, who was also the guidance counselor, looked at my mom and said, she’s not very bright, but she’ll make a good wife and secretary someday.

[00:03:55] Diana Winkler: Ooh.

[00:03:56] Donna Wayles: And I was not allowed to say anything [00:04:00] to that, because I was just the child. I was supposed to be there and to be seen and not heard, but that really bothered me. So that’s part of where I grew up in. But so that’s how I introduce myself: I’m Donna, I’m an author speaker, teacher, and domestic abuse subject expert.

[00:04:23] I use subject expert because a subject expert has to be intimately acquainted with the topic that they speak about. And unfortunately, I am intimately acquainted with the domestic abuse with an upbringing she’s not very bright, but she’ll make a good wife or a church secretary, it was.

[00:04:49] That was how I grew up and how I was and some people would even say conditioned, and so I went to Bible college and I did not find a [00:05:00] husband in the first four years. And I did not want to be one of those people who didn’t find a husband in the first four years till they went to grad school.

[00:05:08] No, thank you. . And so I got a job at teaching in a Christian school in Hawaii, and I met my soon to be husband then at a church picnic. And where else would you think of finding a godly Christian husband except church? But but that’s not how things turned out.

[00:05:33] And that’s the whole premise of my book is that I met him at a church picnic, but there were so many red flags that I missed. And I was teaching at a Christian school. I was a teacher, I was teaching other junior church workers and church leaders, how to be better teachers and leaders.

[00:05:53] And yet this happened to, to me. Sometimes [00:06:00] people ask didn’t you see it? And why did you stay with him for so long? No, I didn’t see it. I thought that was just normal. Because we all have a sense of what’s normal in our lives. And I was married to him for 12 years.

[00:06:18] I you don’t know any different and you’re taught that. And some churches teach that divorce is never acceptable. Yeah. And so what do you do then?

[00:06:32] Diana Winkler: Exactly. I’ve had that very thing happen to me as well. I was curious as to what was it like living in Hawaii? Most people think that, oh, that’s paradise.

[00:06:45] And how did you wind up in Hawaii?

[00:06:49] Donna Wayles: So my senior year of college, I wanted to go on a mission team and why not Hawaii? The Hawaii [00:07:00] mission team, I thought, Ooh, I could spend six weeks in Hawaii doing, all kinds of things. I can teach children’s church or vacation Bible school, or those kinds of things in Hawaii.

[00:07:11] And it would be great to have kind of a break before I go from college into the rest of your life you’re spending working. And my parents said we don’t think you should go, but if God provides the money, then I guess you can go. And so I wrote up a prayer letter like full-time missionaries would do. And I sent it out to family and friends and, sometimes God and country. And, I watched that money come in tens and twenties and, checks from little ladies that I hadn’t seen in years and God provided every penny that I needed. And my parents were like I guess you can go then.

[00:07:51] Diana Winkler: Wow.

[00:07:51] Donna Wayles: And so I spent six weeks in Hawaii and at the end of the summer, my point of view had [00:08:00] completely changed. I had always thought growing up that pastors and missionaries, the one I remember the most was this missionary who came for missions emphasis week. It’s very common in, in Baptist churches, or in a lot of churches anyway. But he came and he seemed sad.

[00:08:21] Basically. He was, oh, it’s so hard to serve the Lord. And somebody served me monkey brains. And it was just to an impressionable young teenager, it was like, wow. If serving God is this way, then that’s not what I wanna do. And so I thought, maybe this six weeks in Hawaii will be okay.

[00:08:41] And, we would sing and we would we help the pastors and their wives with different things. But I met this pastor and his wife in downtown Honolulu, they had three children, they were living in a three bedroom apartment. The parents had one room. The three girls had one bedroom and the other bedroom was the church [00:09:00] office.

[00:09:00] Wow. And they were on like the seventh floor of an apartment building. And it was this little tiny apartment and their Lanai or their balcony was about as wide as my desk. And they were driving well, he had a car and then they had one of those old VW vans. And inside the VW van, they had taken out most of the seats except for there was the church pulpit and the piano and a box of Hym nales and a box of pew Bibles.

[00:09:30] And so we, as part of the mission team got to drive around in that van. And so we laughed about have “church will travel”. Yeah. Those people were so happy and the pastor was working as a night maintenance man in one of the hotels in Waikiki. And they were eating like, tater tot casserole and stuff to make your food budget stretch, but they were so happy serving God.

[00:09:56] And I just could not understand why, the [00:10:00] pastors and the other people that I had seen were, I hate to say miserable, but they really were not showing the joy of the Lord at all. And then I get to Hawaii and these people are, praise God and look at what’s happening. And we get to have baptisms in the ocean, and not,

[00:10:17] we don’t have a baptismal chamber and all this kind of stuff. We’re gonna be down at the beach and we’re gonna baptize you in, in God’s creation in the Pacific ocean. And I’m thinking what a great way to look at things. And yeah. I came back with a completely renewed sense of, serving God is not a chore.

[00:10:39] It’s something that you do because you love God. Not because your skirt is supposed to be this long or your earrings are not supposed to be this, or, your clothes are this way. It’s not to show how godly or spiritual you are. It’s because you love God and you want to serve him.

[00:10:55] And it was just eye opening. And so then [00:11:00] I was actually offered a job teaching at a Christian school there in Hawaii, and I had already signed a contract for the next year. And so they held that job for me for a whole year. And then I went to Hawaii and taught school at the Christian school there. So I really loved it there.

[00:11:18] And yes, there were lots of things that I learned as a white girl with blue eyes in Hawaii. Lots of sunscreen.

[00:11:26] But, I learned so much from the kids and from teaching and just from being that far away from my parents, it was a really good experience and just a funny story.

[00:11:38] The mission team went snorkeling and I thought that I got all of me covered with sunscreen. There were two important parts that I missed and they were the bathing suit lines on the bottom of my bathing suit. And I was never so happy to sit on those cold folding chairs at the church as I was [00:12:00] that afternoon after we got back from snorkeling.

[00:12:04] Diana Winkler: Whoops,

[00:12:04] Donna Wayles: because I was quite happy with the cold folding chair that my skirt was. Ooh, that’s cold. Ooh, nevermind. That feels good. That was just a funny story. And then back then we could bring. Peas to the fish and feed the fish peas. But one of the guys from the mission team left the peas in his pocket of his shorts.

[00:12:28] And so the fish were attacking him to try to get to the peas.

[00:12:32] Diana Winkler: Oh, how funny?

[00:12:33] Donna Wayles: And so he came running out of the water, going, the fish are biting me! They’re gonna kill me! We’re like, what’s in your pocket? Oh yeah, I forgot. So it was just, things like that make a difference in, we didn’t suffer.

[00:12:47] In our six weeks in Hawaii, it wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t a terrible experience. God used that to change the whole direction of my life.

[00:12:56] Diana Winkler: That’s awesome. Yeah. [00:13:00] I’m glad that you had a positive experience with being a missionary or hanging out with a joyful missionary. But I do know for sure that, because I was a missionary myself, that the enemy of God is attacking you when you are in the ministry.

[00:13:21] And some of the missionaries biographies, if you’ve read they suffer greatly and they try and be positive, but they are in a really tough pickle. And they’ve lost family members or they’re sick or yes. And try and give a little grace to the missionaries that come and they give the “Woe is me” speech because I’ve been there.

[00:13:44] yes, I’ve been there. Ministry is really hard and it’s even harder in another country, in another language. It sounds like you had a wonderful time and you grew spiritually [00:14:00] with the Lord.

[00:14:02] Donna Wayles: Now I did. It wasn’t all wonderful. There was one pastor who had a pipe break in his house.

[00:14:09] And so they asked us to go and rip up the old mildewy carpet. And as we are ripping up mildewy carpet they have cockroaches in Hawaii that are like jumbo jet size. Oh yeah. And one of the guys on our team is like six, four, and muscular. And he jumped up and down on that cockroach and it crawled away and we’re like, oh no, that’s not right.

[00:14:37] Yes, we were helping. If I never see another moldy carpet with roaches living underneath it or in it, that will be just fine.

[00:14:48] Diana Winkler: Yes. They’ve survived nuclear wars, apparently.

[00:14:52] Donna Wayles: Yes they do. Ugh.

[00:14:55] Diana Winkler: I used to really hate cockroaches until when we moved into this house in [00:15:00] Phoenix. We have scorpions and black widows and Wolf spiders, and made me appreciate the cockroaches because we got infested with hundreds of ’em on our east wall, and yeah they creep me out.

[00:15:12] They’re disgusting. I hate them. And yeah. I’m not a bug person.

[00:15:19] Donna Wayles: So funny story, I was teaching sixth grade science and one of the projects that’s in the curriculum, was a bug project for the kids to collect insects and pin them to the board and label them with their scientific names.

[00:15:37] This parent sent me this nasty email saying that I was ruining the ecosystem by having all of these children collect bugs. And I’m thinking, no, we are doing the world, a favor, getting all of these bugs out of here.

[00:15:56] Diana Winkler: The bugs outnumber us by the millions. [00:16:00] Okay.

[00:16:00] Donna Wayles: Yes. I ended up going to the principal and, having a conversation with him and look, this is part of the curriculum.

[00:16:07] I didn’t make this up. And and so we, the child was mortified that the parent said anything that just a funny story about bugs.

[00:16:19] Diana Winkler: Yes. Now you mentioned already meeting your first husband . Yes. And you had a church picnic.

[00:16:29] Tell us. About your first date? What was it like?

[00:16:35] Donna Wayles: So our first date, he had just come to Hawaii. He was new to the Navy and new to Hawaii. And I had been there a year or so, but before we went on the mission team sponsors made sure that we had some cultural training so that we didn’t offend anyone and leave our shoes on in the house.

[00:16:59] And some of those [00:17:00] things. One of my favorite places to go was a place called sacred falls. And incidentally, you can’t hike there anymore because there was a landslide and there were several people that were killed in that landslide. But we we were hiking there, going to the other side of the island and it was a nice hike.

[00:17:17] You hike out to a freshwater falls and you can swim under the falls and there’s a little rock, actually it’s a giant rock, but you swim out and then you can jump off under the falls. And actually just a very nice hike about a mile each way.

[00:17:31] And so I figured that would be a safe, but semi-public way to get to know him. But as we were walking, I tend to be a little clumsy. And so I slipped on some dry dirt and I fell down and I was embarrassed and he laughed at me and I thought wow, thanks for that. Didn’t help me up or anything, but laughed.

[00:17:55] And so then as we were talking, he had turned around to look at me, and when [00:18:00] he turned around to see where he was going, he got hit with a twig right in the forehead. And so I laughed and basically he embarrassed himself too. So then we were even, and after that, it was pretty easy to talk to each other after that, because we had pretty much embarrassed ourselves in front of the other one.

[00:18:19] So that was good. But it was nice. We got out to the falls, the water was cold. We didn’t end up swimming just because the water was cold and it started to sprinkle. And so then we like walked all the way back and we stopped at a McDonald’s and he was surprised that you can get spam at McDonald’s in Hawaii.

[00:18:39] Diana Winkler: Really?

[00:18:40] Donna Wayles: And ramen noodles.

[00:18:42] Diana Winkler: Wow.

[00:18:43] Donna Wayles: Or at least at that Hawaii.

[00:18:44] Diana Winkler: I did not know that.

[00:18:46] Donna Wayles: So he was surprised and I ordered a teriyaki hamburger because those are my favorite. And he’s, you can get that here? This is McDonald’s don’t you just get hamburger, cheeseburger, chicken, sandwich, whatever. And I’m like, no, they have spam on the [00:19:00] plate for breakfast and there’s ramen noodles and other stuff.

[00:19:05] And he’s,

[00:19:05] I never seen that before. So like I said, we stopped at McDonald’s and then we went back to my house and he, his barracks.

[00:19:13] Diana Winkler: So it seemed like that went pretty well. But when did things start getting like really bad, or that you started seeing things?

[00:19:26] Donna Wayles: The problem is that I didn’t see, like I didn’t notice. And so there was one time that a friend of mine from college was flying through. A friend of mine, because my last name started with S and his last name started with S we sat together in every class in Bible college.

[00:19:45] We had lunch when he was flying through. He had a long stop over in Honolulu and I was off. Let’s have lunch. Was a Saturday, and then at that point we had just started dating. We weren’t [00:20:00] serious or anything, and he must have called me 7, 8, 9 times during that hour lunch.

[00:20:07] And so finally I was like, look, I’m having lunch, so you need to stop. And and I was supposed to meet with him and another couple, we were going to double date and go like miniature golfing or something after my lunch, like later in the evening. And I said, you need to stop.

[00:20:25] I’m just having lunch. Apparently that was too much for him because the lady who, whose daughter was, we were supposed to meet at the girl’s house and we were gonna go, the four of us. And when I arrived there, the mom took me aside and she was like, Donna, what did you do?

[00:20:49] He is so upset. He was crying. And beside himself, You need to apologize to him because the Bible says, if you offend someone, you need [00:21:00] to apologize to them and make it right. And I’m like, I went to lunch. I didn’t do anything. And she’s, but you need to, he’s upset. And you offended him, so you need to go to him.

[00:21:14] And I was like, okay but I still don’t think I did anything.

[00:21:20] [00:21:20] Like what did I do while he was upset? You need to apologize. So I said, look, I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings. I went to lunch. But looking back, that was a red flag, that was a huge red flag. Don’t do that.

[00:21:35] I shouldn’t have apologized. And I just thought it was cute that he wanted to know where I was all the time. And look at how much he loves me. He wants to know where I am all the time. And, he wants to go with me here, there, and everywhere. It’s not cute.

[00:21:52] It was controlling. I just didn’t see it that way. Yeah. And then the first time that I [00:22:00] really saw him be just abusive and mean to me was after we got married. We had been married a year and we went back to visit his family on the mainland, is what they call it from Hawaii.

[00:22:15] We went to Florida to visit his mom and it was Christmas. And so we had gotten his mom, a Christmas tree and the family decorating the tree and that kind of stuff. And his mom and his sister. And he, and I were gonna sit down in the living room and watch the Christmas specials and all that stuff.

[00:22:34] And I was thirsty. And so as the good Christian wife, I was gonna get up and, Does anybody want anything else while I’m up? And everyone said, no. And I said I’m gonna go get a drink of water. He kicked my feet out from under me. He tripped me on purpose. And then I landed and it was, the apartment was like first floor.

[00:22:58] So it was concrete floor with carpet [00:23:00] over it. Oh. And I started crying because it hurt. And he’s laughing and pointing at me going, you should have seen your face! It was so funny! And I looked at him and I said, you hurt me. It’s not funny. You hurt me. And so he like picked me up and put me on his lap and I was like, you hurt me.

[00:23:22] Why did you do that? It was funny. It’s not funny, like it was some kind of joke. And look, and I got up the next morning and I was really stiff and I, looking in the mirror going, Ow! And my, my tailbone had this giant bruise from where I had landed on the concrete.

[00:23:40] And I thought, how? You know, that wasn’t funny. And there were times when he would grab me or tickle me or whatever, and wrestle me to the ground. And, oh, that’s really funny. No, it’s not funny. So there were things that I missed, but at the same [00:24:00] time, I was taught that the wife should submit to the husband and the husband can do whatever he wants and that kind of thing.

[00:24:08] And some of the secular sources call it spiritual abuse or cultural abuse. Because he’s using the Bible as a bat, basically. Yeah. You have to do this because the Bible says! No, the Bible does not condone marital rape.

[00:24:24] The Bible does not condone, trying to kill your wife by throwing her down the stairs. Pornography and those kinds of things are not biblical. And so the things that I had been taught,

[00:24:37] all of my life, he’s now twisting to use just to make me do what he wants me to do at that point.

[00:24:46] Diana Winkler: Now, did he pressure you to get married before he went into the military?

[00:24:52] Donna Wayles: So there was a lot of pressure from church people, not necessarily the [00:25:00] pastor, but the singles ministry, because, oh yeah. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust for someone. You should marry him. He’s going out to sea for six months. Wives, get information. Girlfriends and fiancees get nothing. So it was really a, I made a bad decision. Like I should not have married him after only knowing him for six months.

[00:25:25] That was a huge red flag too. The church people were happy for us and, oh, look, you found your soulmate or whatever at a church picnic. And how wonderful is this? But it wasn’t really wonderful.

[00:25:39] Diana Winkler: There’s something to be said about, church pressuring people to get married. I’m, pro-marriage. I’m happily married now and you’re happily married now. I’ve been a part of many singles groups that they put a lot of pressure on people to get married.

[00:25:54] And if they see you’re sitting together, [00:26:00] anywhere near each other in church. They’re like, they think you’re engaged or they’re trying to set you up with each other, and that’s gotta stop.

[00:26:11] Donna Wayles: It really does that whole, ” We don’t date, we court to marriage.” And I’m like, okay. But that has so many different connotations for different people.

[00:26:25] And that didn’t turn out well for me. We’ll just throw that, just throw it.

[00:26:29] Diana Winkler: I think courting is a very cultural thing. None of us have our parents pick out our spouses, at least in our culture. That’s not how it’s done. No, maybe in other countries,

[00:26:41] yes. But you gotta date somebody and do different activities and be in different environments in order to get to know somebody for real. Exactly. Hey, help somebody move. Go camping. Do something that shows somebody’s character and you can’t really do that if you’re courting and you’re [00:27:00] only on chaperoned dates and you’re only allowed to see each other in church.

[00:27:04] It’s ridiculous. Too much.

[00:27:06] Donna Wayles: Yes. It got to the point where he didn’t allow me to answer the door, answer my cell phone. I was not allowed out of the house unless he knew where I was going, how long I would be there and

[00:27:17] who I was going to be there with. And I was playing an online, silly online, kill the dragon kind of game. And someone mentioned to me that my husband was treating me like a maid with benefits. And I was very offended by that. How dare you say that? To me, I’m a good Christian wife and I do this, that, and the other thing, but it really made me think.

[00:27:45] And then another friend had just gone to the Navy counseling service and she would tell you that she’s not a Christian. She believes in God, but God is [00:28:00] everywhere and in everything. So more of a pantheist, right? And her counselor at the Navy family counseling center had really helped her.

[00:28:11] And maybe that’s what I needed, because I was different when my first husband was around. I seemed so much more relaxed when he wasn’t around. And of course, then he agreed with her that I should definitely go get counseling because there was obviously something wrong with me.

[00:28:30] And I came back from one counseling session with, I have a personal space bubble and I have a right to say, no. You don’t have to grope and grab me and whatever all the time. And that did not go over well at all. So he came up with a chore chart. And so he put he made this chart [00:29:00] and like doing the dishes and I don’t know, just doing chores around the house would earn him sexual favors.

[00:29:09] Diana Winkler: What?!

[00:29:10] Donna Wayles: And I was like, you are not five and I’m not doing that.

[00:29:14] Diana Winkler: You’re a grown woman!

[00:29:16] Donna Wayles: And he’s a grown man. I am not giving him sexual favors for doing the dishes. That’s just crazy.

[00:29:25] Diana Winkler: That’s gross.

[00:29:26] Donna Wayles: And just absolutely crazy. And so I went back to my counselor the next week and I’m like, this is what happened when I said no.

[00:29:34] And she’s I’m so sorry. Growing up in the church, I was always taught, it’s communion Sunday. You have to reflect on the sins that you’ve done and, and confess your sins and you must confess your sins all the time.

[00:29:48] And I was so used to that whole self analysis that when my counselor looked at me and she took my hand and [00:30:00] she said, have you ever considered that it might not be you? The problem might not be you. I had not!

[00:30:07] I thought that if I could just be the Proverbs 31 woman, or if I could just, figure out what he wanted before he yelled at me or, whatever. If I wore the right outfit or didn’t wear the right outfit or, whatever it was that I could prevent the next outburst, but that’s not how that goes.

[00:30:28] And that one statement, have you ever considered it’s not you, just completely floored me. And they told me that he would, that he might get violent and that I needed to prepare just in case. And right up until it happened, I was sure that he would never hurt me like that. And then he did. And the first question that the paramedics asked me when they came with the [00:31:00] military police to my apartment was, do you think he tried to kill you?

[00:31:05] Oh, wow. And I said, no! Why would he do that? People who love you don’t try to kill you. But they took pictures of all of my injuries. I had a hand print on my neck. I had his hand print on my arm. I had a black eye and I had all kinds of bruises. And it was just so humiliating having all those pictures taken of me.

[00:31:29] And then I called my mom, because the doctors asked me when I was at the emergency room, Do you need to call anyone? And I said, yeah, I need to call my parents. And my mom’s first words to me were, What did you do? You need to fix this. Oh, and I was like, there is no fix to this. And so I told her that the doctor was about to come in and I was hoping that he would, because I really couldn’t continue that conversation.

[00:31:55] It was just horrendous. And I spent two, eight [00:32:00] hour days within the N C I S office giving my statement. And another question that just rocked my world was, Did you ever leave bruises on him? And thought, oh no. Does that make me an abuser? Does that make me as bad as him? My victim advocate was there next to me and she put her arm around me. And the detective was so kind, and he looked at me and he said, That doesn’t make you anything, but a fighter.

[00:32:33] He said, Those are self-defense wounds. You are not an abuser. You fought back . And that just helped solidify in my mind that I was doing the right thing. That, and after my now ex-husband was arrested for that assault, the victim advocate and the detectives [00:33:00] called me. And they had a conference and they said basically that when they arrested him, which was about six or eight hours after the assault, that he had gone to our bank and cleaned out our bank account. He had gone with that money to Red Lobster to take himself out to dinner.

[00:33:17] He’d had a rough day. And then he went to see a movie.

[00:33:21] Diana Winkler: That doesn’t make any sense.

[00:33:24] Donna Wayles: And they said He’s a sociopath. Yeah. He kept trophies. He kept some of my underwear and some of my bras and some of our baby’s toys. Our daughter’s adopted, but he kept like some of her toys and things and he would send them back to us as gifts to her.

[00:33:43] It’s just, it was just awful. And that detective said to me, We took him in the room after we arrested him, and he told us that if he found you, he would finish the job. You [00:34:00] are in danger. He will kill you if he finds you. And I lived in terror for, until the judge said we could leave Washington state. It was just horrendous.

[00:34:16] My book is called, “I’ll Pray For You” because after all of this, I stayed with one of the Navy wives because the church people couldn’t help me, or wouldn’t help me is probably a better way to say it, but they couldn’t help me. I was staying in hiding with one of the Navy wife, friends who is not a Christian, by the way. My church friends were just gone because he had told them all, I was having an affair. With the guy on the internet who happened to tell me that I was, the maid with benefits, that I was being abused.

[00:34:50] And so he told them all that I was having an affair and that I was just this horrible person. And basically I was staying with one of the Navy wives and [00:35:00] she hid my car in her garage. Because he was stalking me, trying to find out where I was. And I went to the head elder of my church because he had hosted my baby shower. He and his wife hosted our baby shower.

[00:35:15] And, we went shopping. They were my, kind of spiritual parents. We were friends, I thought, right up until we weren’t. And so I went to his house. My daughter was, sleeping in her car seat in the back. And he didn’t let me in to his house and I thought that was different.

[00:35:35] And he stood with his arm across the door and he said, basically, what are you doing here? And I said, I need a place to stay because I only had the clothes that were on my back and what was in my daughter’s diaper bag. I wasn’t allowed back in our apartment without three military police officers.

[00:35:54] So I, I had nothing. And I was hoping that they would let me [00:36:00] stay with them. And he said, we’ve done everything that we can. We can’t help you anymore. He’s dangerous. And I said, yeah, I know. And I pointed to the bruises on my face and my arm. And he said basically, we can’t help you, but I’ll pray for you.

[00:36:17] Thoughts and prayers.

[00:36:19] Diana Winkler: Famous last words.

[00:36:20] Donna Wayles: And he and that was all he would say. And he turned around and went back in the house. And I just remember thinking, What am I gonna do now? That was my church family. And I can’t go to church there because if my ex-husband or my soon-to-be ex-husband at that point shows up, it’s gonna be ugly.

[00:36:40] So I’m not allowed to go to church. I’m having to carry my phone with me everywhere because. they want me to be able to call 9 1 1 the minute I see him, because he’s out to kill me. He’s accusing me of kidnapping our baby and all this kind of stuff. And I was a mess. And [00:37:00] then we started going to a different church.

[00:37:02] My husband was at that point was embarrassed that some of our issues, our personal issues, had come out. So we had to change churches. The other pastor called me while I was staying in hiding with another friend. These people had put a tarp over my car in their barn to hide me.

[00:37:22] And they were not as church popular as the cool group that I hung out with. And, but, I got to stay with these people and this lady was just, she was the first person who actually cared about me. She brought me a cup of tea, cuz I don’t drink coffee.

[00:37:43] And she sat down with me. She was an elderly lady, and she said, Donna, if you don’t mind, can you tell me a little bit about what you’re going through so that I can really pray for you and pray with you? And so I started telling her, [00:38:00] and I didn’t have any emotion whatsoever because I was just so traumatized.

[00:38:06] And I watched this woman cry and just sob and hug me and I had no idea that my life was so awful. That someone else was crying for me and I couldn’t cry. Wow. And so here’s this lady. And so as I’m outside, in her backyard with my little girl, who’s now about not quite two, she’s toddling around and riding the little trike and this kind of stuff.

[00:38:33] And I got a call from that other pastor of the church that we had been visiting. And basically what he said to me was, if you don’t take him back, we’re going to discipline you out of the church. And I just started bawling. I had spent my entire life in church growing up in church, serving God, doing everything that I thought was right.

[00:38:58] And here’s this pastor [00:39:00] telling me that if I don’t take my abuser back, that they’re going to discipline me out of the church. And between sobs, I tried to explain to him that The detectives had told me that he tried to kill me. And my daughter needed one safe parent. And I was it. And I have no intention of going back to him because, one, I wanna live.

[00:39:26] And, two, my daughter needs a parent. And I can’t do that. And he said that’s basically that’s the unpardonable sin or whatever, because I’m being blatantly disregarding what my pastor told me to do. And I’m like, the detectives say that he’s going to kill me. I can’t go back there. It’s not safe. And he said we’re gonna have to discipline you out of the church. And I said, do what you have to do because I don’t plan to be in Washington state that much longer, the minute the judge lets me go, I’m [00:40:00] leaving. Yeah. Why would you wanna be part of a church like that anyway?

[00:40:06] Exactly. So I think that I had to do a lot of soul searching. And church is still difficult. Like the organized religion church is really difficult for me because of those kinds of issues. And yes, that’s my emotional baggage and yes, God asks us to forgive, but,

[00:40:27] but it’s really hard when somebody, when it’s when it’s so personal that, all I had was the clothes on my back and it wasn’t my church friends who helped me. It was the Navy wives group who one of the ladies took me to target and bought me underwear and a new outfit. So that I could show up in court wearing something besides what I had been wearing for the last three days. Bringing everything back to the book of James, I guess, has really helped me and the whole chapter about [00:41:00] faith without works is dead.

[00:41:01] And there were people who could have helped me. There are people who could have done a lot of things, but I’m really thankful for the ones who did help. The ones who brought a package of diapers. On our way back from Target, we stopped at Starbucks and I said, what are you stopping for?

[00:41:18] And she said, you look like you need something, you need some time. And that was just wonderful. And I barely knew her. Sometimes God asks us to show our faith with our works. And recently my husband was out with a friend of his. They stopped to pick up a bite to eat after work, and he said, something seemed off with the waitress.

[00:41:45] So he told her about my book and told her about me, and gave her his phone number and said, if you need something, my wife will talk with you. And little did we know about three hours later, she called and said, [00:42:00] I need help. My husband has just assaulted me. And I need some place to go with my two little girls.

[00:42:05] And I went with her to the emergency room and my husband sat out in the waiting room with two little girls, five and seven, I think. And he just entertained them. And he asked me on the way there, if I was ready to do this, and I said, no. I will never be ready to do this, but I have to. This is an opportunity that God has given me to put feet to my words.

[00:42:36] Now it’s my turn to not be accused of not helping when someone needs help. And so she was able to get somewhere safe and her kids are safe now. And there’s still some issues there that she will need to work through, but we got to help with the initial,” [00:43:00] Yes,

[00:43:00] you’re doing the right thing by leaving”. Yes. Yes. You shouldn’t do this. Yes. All those things, all of those things that you couldn’t quite put your finger on. I had, all of those. Yep. Absolutely. And you’re doing the right thing. You and your daughters deserve to be safe. And and so that’s where my challenge is now. I am teaching in a title one inner city school, and I teach kids with special needs and kids who are new to the US and that kind of thing.

[00:43:32] And I think that my trauma, my experiences have really helped me become a better person because I can see, I can empathize. I can see what the kids are going through and sure. And I can help them. And at the end of this last school year this eighth grade boy came up. The side hug thing is really big in school cuz we [00:44:00] don’t give hugs, but he side hugged me and he’s, Thanks for caring.

[00:44:04] I know I didn’t do everything you wanted me to do in your class, but I’m glad that you always cared about me. Aw. And it was one of those, I learned the most in your class because you actually cared. And I thought, wow, there were days that I didn’t want, that I really would rather not.

[00:44:24] I think that with what happened to me and then being able to pass on that kindness and do one kind thing for another person. And then hopefully that person will do something kind for, for someone else and just share that hope and God’s grace and kindness because we all have those scars.

[00:44:50] Diana Winkler: , I’m so sorry you went through all of that pain. So much of your story, it’s: you’re so angry at, yes, your ex-husband. It’s [00:45:00] really easy to be angry with him. And then you have the churches that wouldn’t help you. And I don’t understand why they wouldn’t help you. Did they not wanna get involved?

[00:45:13] Were they afraid that your ex was gonna come and hurt them? Or did they really think that you were some Jezebel that didn’t deserve protection, common courtesy, just the basic necessities of life? It is just appalling. But you also pointed out so clearly that God made something good out of the situation. You were in the right place at the right time for the waitress and her family.

[00:45:47] And you made a difference in a child’s life, your student’s life. And we talked about this before we went live here that, we can’t save everybody. We can’t [00:46:00] change the world by ourself, but, bless God we can change one person’s life. We can make a difference for that child, for that family.

[00:46:11] Donna Wayles: Absolutely. And I’ve been thinking a lot this summer because my daughter’s about to turn 18. And when all of this happened, she was not quite two and God has just blessed us. I’m remarried, happily remarried. We just celebrated 10 years. Yay. God has just given us, the verse exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ask or think. I have some amazing friends.

[00:46:36] God has been so good to bless me. And just the grace and second chances and learning that God is a God of love and he’s not always looking to judge me for every sin. And I don’t have to spend my life evaluating myself for how I can be better. Although we always strive to be better, but that’s not a requirement for God’s love and that’s not a [00:47:00] requirement for his grace.

[00:47:01] Diana Winkler: I’m curious with your now husband, how hard was it to heal from your ex-husband abuse and going into a new marriage? Did you have any challenges? What was that like now you have a loving husband.

[00:47:20] Donna Wayles: We dated off and on for almost for three years, and then we were engaged for a year. So it took us a while to get into that. There were a lot of things that I had to work through. Our first date was really funny because a mutual friend set us up. My husband now was traveling for business and he had a lot of flight miles and hotel points.

[00:47:48] I was living in South Carolina and a mutual friend introduced us and I dismissed my husband now cuz he was flirting with me. I was like, yeah, we’ll never meet. It was one of [00:48:00] those like a chat room kind of thing. Like a party.

[00:48:03] And basically I said, you’ll never see me in person. It’ll never happen. And he said, what will it take to convince you? And I said, a flight itinerary and a hotel reservation, cuz I don’t know you and you’re not staying with me Uhhuh. And he said, gimme 30 minutes. And do you know in 20 minutes there was a flight itinerary and a hotel reservation in my email box for him.

[00:48:30] Diana Winkler: Whoa!

[00:48:32] Donna Wayles: So my sister-in-law kept my daughter for the weekend. I don’t think I have laughed that hard. We walked around Charleston, South Carolina, and we walked around Charleston and we laughed and we just had a really good time. We just hit it off. And after that no matter where he was in the world, he would call or text. We would talk for hours about everything from [00:49:00] Bible to politics, to what did my daughter do today kind of things.

[00:49:06] And it was just amazing. She liked him right away.

[00:49:12] Diana Winkler: Oh, that’s great.

[00:49:13] Donna Wayles: Except here’s a funny story though. He asked me to marry him. I said, yes, of course, cuz it had been like three years and off and on. So then he asked her if he could marry me. And she looked at him and said, no, and she went to her room and closed the door. I looked at him and he looked at me like, What’s that?

[00:49:37] Because we had gotten along, she had gotten along so well with him. And so when he knocked on her door, she had prepared a little tea party at her little table and chairs. And now a tea party for her was taking the letter T and putting it in the pot with the cups. So she had to put the tea in the pot.

[00:49:57] So that was pretty fun. But so [00:50:00] she, poured her tea into his cup this kind of thing. And he said, Why can’t I marry your mom? And she said, But then I’d have to share you with my mom. And he said, But if I marry your mom, I’ll get to stay with you all the time. And I won’t have to leave. And she’s, Okay, you can marry us then.

[00:50:21] Diana Winkler: Aw, I love that story!

[00:50:24] Donna Wayles: So she was six, almost seven when we got married. She always called it, our family wedding. It was our family anniversary. And because that was the day that we officially became a family. And so to this day we still have a family anniversary in June. So it’s, just things like that, make those happy memories over what was trauma. Not that there’s not

[00:50:51] scars, but those happy memories are just so much more precious.

[00:50:57] Diana Winkler: Absolutely. I’m so [00:51:00] happy for you. And I have a wonderful husband now and we have our love story and how God brought us together. These kinda stories, it gives hope to those out there, who say I’ll never love anybody.

[00:51:16] Nobody will love me. All the guys out there are horrible, abusive people. There are some wonderful men out there that will love you and cherish you the way you deserve.

[00:51:29] Donna Wayles: Absolutely.

[00:51:32] Diana Winkler: I know we talked a lot of stuff today, but is there anything about your story that you

[00:51:39] left out or wanted to mention? Or maybe some advice for those listening?

[00:51:45] Donna Wayles: So my biggest piece of advice is that if it feels like there’s something wrong, there probably is. There were so many times when I thought, man, that doesn’t seem quite right but [00:52:00] I just went with it. And that really, if you think that there’s something wrong, there probably is.

[00:52:10] Yes. Trust your, what they call your gut your spidey sense, right?

[00:52:15] Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that God, the Holy Spirit uses that to direct us. It’s hard though to separate that from, your own personal feelings, but if it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right.

[00:52:32] Diana Winkler: Yeah. Them hormones, when they get going, man, it’s really hard to stop and be objective about your relationship that you’re in. But that’s a great piece of advice. This has been wonderful. I loved listening to your story again. It’s just as powerful as it was the first time I listened to it.

[00:52:54] And I’m so glad to know you. So I appreciate you being on the show. [00:53:00] Can you tell the folks how to get your book and to be in contact with you?

[00:53:06] Donna Wayles: Sure. My book is called, I’ll Pray For You, a Christian woman’s guide to surviving domestic violence. You can get it on Amazon or Walmart.com. And make sure you read the reviews on Amazon.

[00:53:19] I’m just floored by all, what, all the kind words that people had to say. And then my website is www author D wayles.org, We spell my husband’s family spelled it weird, but it’s W A Y L E S. And I would love to hear from people. My email is actually Donna author d wayles.org.

[00:53:47] So I would love to connect! Thanks so much for the opportunity.

[00:53:52] Diana Winkler: Awesome. I’ll have all that information in the show notes. Donna, be sure to keep in touch. [00:54:00] I like to connect with other advocates, with other survivors. As we talked about earlier, you know together, we’re stronger and we can help more people.

[00:54:11] Right? Absolutely. Absolutely. God bless you.

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