May those who read this, that are experiencing now or have ever experienced any type of bondage to sex or abuse, find the light at the end of the tunnel; it can be overcome and removed from your life.

This may be one of the hardest things in my life to write about.

From the responses I’ve received from so many about my writings, I’d guess that people might be thinking ‘How can you order the hardness level when so many things were difficult?’ Well, the truth is to write about it all is like looking back on another person’s life. I am a new person in every way, so it is very surreal for me. Sometimes it is difficult to recall every single detail, although the details I do remember are colorfully vivid. I suppose that is a blessing, because I don’t think I’d want to remember every detail. It is part of my healing process to relive to tell but not to relive to re-experience. I still admit though — this one is hard.


It all started before I even knew it.

A look back at myself at a young age shows me that I must have absorbed my father’s suicide (when I was 9) somehow, some way personally. I never once thought he left because he didn’t love me, but I suppose I felt like I wasn’t enough for him to want to stay. I went on a search for a man to come into my life; one that would love me and take the pain away. Therein lies the mistake. I thought I needed a man. My dream of falling in love began at a very young age. This was not your typical type of daydreaming. It was a yearning in my heart so deep that I fell into the trap of thinking I was not complete all by myself.

The truth is that thought was correct. I was not enough all alone. I will never be enough alone. The problem was not that I filled an emptiness in my life. It was whom I filled that emptiness with that made my life miserable. That all led to me doing things that have taken me decades of struggle for which to find self forgiveness.

I remember someone close to me saying that I didn’t know what love truly was since I told everyone around me that I loved them. I knew she was partially correct. I also knew that was an incorrect statement in total context. I knew what love was. I was just searching for love in the form of someone to sweep me off my feet and make the world better. I was searching for the wrong someone.


I started having sex when I was eighteen with someone whom I had dated for about a year. The reason? Because he said he was leaving.


That was my heart hitting the floor.

I thought I had found my answer to love and suddenly that was threatened. I didn’t like the thought of him leaving. Although, I should have listened to my brain if nothing else. In that year, he had been caught lying, stealing, and abusing alcohol, among other things. The drugs came later (or at least they did to my knowledge). These things are all high signs of course, don’t you think? But the signs are not always so obvious.

I let this guy have a tight hold on me. Like a boa constrictor wraps itself around its victim, he had my mind so wrapped up in him that I lost sight of what normal even resembled. But I let him.

Yes, I let him.

I have met so many women who will say, when describing the same abusive relationships, that it is the truth that we let men take us to that point. For many different reasons women choose to let the man continue.

I fully believe forgiveness is always the first option. We all mess up and need forgiveness. After all, we love a good human redemption story, don’t we? However, repetitive mental abuse or physical abuse means forgiveness needs to happen outside the situation in a safer environment. Forgiveness needs to happen whether it is asked for or not, because forgiveness is something else we choose. Forgiveness to that person for the pain inflicted is a gift we give to ourselves to heal. Otherwise that person who is non-remorseful keeps a hold on us long after they are gone if we don’t choose to forgive.

That relationship I was in progressed to the manipulation of my mind and my body. The control began as a subtle coercion but turned into a scorching painful beast. I remember a night when I was trying to leave and he put his entire arm around my neck and drug me across the room. I could see the door I was trying to get out, but it looked like it was miles away. My whole life stopped in that moment. I felt angry, betrayed, and scared, but mostly I felt alone. Alone in a dark world full of hatred and despair.

My depression had a deep hold on me by that time in my life. But still, if I had been paying attention to the voice inside me I would have gathered up my strength – even if it were through the anger – and ran fast and hard. Never to return. I remember thinking as things began to go dark, “I don’t deserve this.”

There it was! The Truth in a situation slammed with facts. The fact was I was in danger. The fact was I had seen the hints leading up to this. The Truth however was calling out to me, “You do not deserve this.”

It is with great sorrow that I tell you…
I did not listen to the Truth. I guess I felt in some way I must deserve this if it was happening to me.

Every single choice we make leads down a path with exits we can get off and start down a new road.


I returned. I chose.

Why? Because I wanted love and attention so badly that I would do anything. And at that point he was giving it to me. I was in an unhealthy place for certain.

As time passed I began to have a hatred for that man. As it gradually replaced the love, the dreadful things began to take root and grow. There came a time that love no longer was even recognizable to me. I was enslaved. The hate took a foothold deep in my soul before I realized it. Then I was scared for a different reason. I knew this hatred was murdering my true self.

Even when I began to recognize the poisonous venom that was encircling my soul, there was still a part of me that wanted to change him to be a more loving person. How messed up was that? This had brought me to a place where I was not even capable of recognizing love and yet I wanted to teach it?

Slowly I began to see that I needed out, although it took me another year. I can’t begin to tell you why except that I chose to stay. I chose.

During that time I did not focus on health. I focused on the anger. That year brought so much agony that my eyes started to open. It was where I turned my gaze that allowed for a continued lifestyle pattern of destruction.

I left in time to adopt a different outlook on relationships. An even stronger poison, if that’s possible, inched into my veins. A double shot of self loathing embraced with anger for men.


I heard a lot of voices. But I zoned in on one in particular.

I must be unlovable.

I made another choice. I chose a new focus in my new search for love. I chose sex. This is something that many women turn to as a method of finding the one to love them. Unfortunately I’ve seen this happen in marriages as well. My choices just happened to be with many instead of the one.

The hands that touched me were not doing so out of love but instead out of conquest.

So it didn’t take me long to fall into yet another diluted way of thinking. “I’m not going to be the conquest. I am going to be in control.” So I postured myself to be the one everyone would want. I did things that I should have never done, things that would not be done in a healthy sexual relationship between a husband and wife.

“Thanks” to the rewritten feminism movement I was inundated with ways to empower myself as a woman.

“Right!” Boy, do they have it all wrong.

During this time of my life, deep inside my soul I knew that what I was doing was wrong on so many levels. I knew that I could possibly ruin a good relationship when it came into my life. I knew that the hands that touched me were joining us in an unholy union. I knew I could die by so many ways. I knew what God had to say about this lifestyle, and I was seeing people all around pay the consequences. I knew. I knew. I knew.

If only I had learned to love myself. I chose not to listen. I chose.

Emotionally, spiritually, and physically, God had a different plan for me. If only I had turned to God for the safety. If only I had chosen to listen to him. I had given my life to Him when I was 15, but had not practiced giving it all to Him daily.

There is a void ONLY God can fill.


Life is spectacularly different when that void is filled by the only One who can truly fill it. It doesn’t necessarily get easier, but it gets spectacular.

As usual for me, I required the proverbial brick before I decided to change the way I was thinking about myself. But I did. I chose.

I chose just in time to meet my husband. We’ve been together over 20 years now. Sadly, I brought some of the same patterns and methods into my marriage, but I knew from the beginning that he loved me for who I was. I knew he was patient and kind and honored me with honesty and trust; he protected me. He put up with a lot from me. There is no denying that. And he brought his own crazy baggage of bad choices to add to the mix. As I let God renew my mind, so did he let God work in him. He stuck with me and loved me.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

God gave me what I had been longing for all those years. He gave me a pure love in Him. That is the only reason I learned to love myself and then to love my husband. I learned to lean on God instead of trying to understand everything and to control everything. I chose to let God work in my life.

I Chose.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NASB



Read more excerpts from “And I Heard Him Say…” – by Heather Mertens


10 thoughts on “The Hands That Touched Me

  1. You are so gifted Heather at writing. WOW. Just heard this on the radio “My Mess becomes HIS message.” This book is going to change hearts, lives, families and shatter the lies of the enemy. ALL GLORY TO OUR KING!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jon. It is a gift from HIm I cherish with every heartbeat. YES! Our God is all we need to make our mess HIS message! My life will never be in vain. The walk through this just became the lightest load I’ve ever carried. And I am so ready to go where He leads.


  2. I finally sat down long enough to read this in its entirety. Wow, Heather. You do have a gift for writing, but beyond that I am so glad you are brave enough to tell your story of strength, forgiveness, and redemption. You go, girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I find your marriage story a beautiful one. It is what a marriage should be. I am sure it is not perfect, of course, but you two have stuck together through tough times. Grown together. Overcome together. I imagine it is better now even though you still face daily challenges.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Traci. Our marriage is certainly better than it ever was. Now the challenges presented are viewed by us differently which helps. This chronic illness is presenting challenges that we are both working through. When I think about all we went through it is a miracle and a work of God that we are still together and love each other more than ever.


  4. You’ve done it again Heather. Private message will be winging it’s way to you but only after I’ve got over my stunned silence. Keep writing, God is totally in your writing and the Spirit is breathing on it too.
    God bless you for truth.

    Liked by 1 person

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