Betty’s Story: Escaping an Abusive Relationship
Betty rebelled against her family and God when she was growing up. She started to chase the approval of others and found herself in an abusive relationship. Only through God’s provision of a loving family was she rescued and found her way back into lifetime ministry.
Below is a transcript of the video, edited for readability.
Betty Vesikula: I was actually born and raised in the Fiji Islands. All my life, I’ve just been an island girl. With Junior, we’ve known each other forever.
Junior Vesikula: I used to look after her. I treated her like my sister. She hung out with my sisters, and we were like family. There was a lot of joy growing up in the islands, even though we didn’t have food, but we still had so much joy. We lived right next to a rubbish dump. And it’s funny, I was so little. My dad always take me and my sister to the rubbish dump to collect food. They dug under the ground and threw meat and stuff. And my dad was, “you stay up there.” And he was just throwing us the meat. It was fun for us, but we didn’t know the struggle that my parents were having just to feed us.
Betty Vesikula: My parents, they just wanted a better life for my siblings and myself and America has a lot of opportunities. They won the green card lottery, and we received our visas. From the islands, we moved straight into what I feel is the heart of San Francisco, the Tenderloin community. That in itself is just a rough neighborhood to move into for someone who’s from such a small, laidback island. The city in itself was pretty overwhelming. San Francisco, it’s a huge city. Because I was 16 years old, I attended high school here. I wasn’t really used to the freedom of speech, so to say.
There were a lot of teens in my class that would talk back to their teachers. Growing up in the islands, we were expected to always listen to our elders. We would only speak up if we were spoken to or asked to speak. Going to school in San Francisco was a huge culture shock.
The main thing that I struggled with was not having extended family close by. In Fiji, we live with grandma and grandpa and aunties and uncles and cousins. I guess that in itself was a huge change. I think I missed home so much that it felt like this emptiness in me. I left family and friends and everything that I was used to. So I think I reacted in a way where I was just trying to fill that gap. I just ended up filling it with being with the wrong crowd, participating in drinking, and trying out new things not biblically correct.
Some people, they either respond or react in a way where they still stay true to who they are and some don’t. And I was in that category. I took full advantage of that whole freedom of speech thing, making my own decisions and choices and what I felt was best for myself. So eventually, I just started spiraling down the wrong path. At 17, 18 years old, I got caught up in a relationship that was ungodly. I was feeling more lost than anything. He kind of manipulated me into moving in with him and running away from home. Because I was so young, I fell into that trap.
I think that’s where everything went even deeper. It started with him pouring gifts. He took me on trips, even took me back home to the Fiji Islands, all these lavish things that I could never afford for myself. That was his way of showing me that he loved me. From then came the whole mental abusive thing. He made me feel like without him, I would not be someone and that no one else in this world would love me or take care of me the way that he was providing for me. I fell into it. I truly believed that no one else would love me the way that he did.
He was really controlling. As our relationship went on, I started to notice that I wasn’t allowed to do things that I wanted to do for myself, hang out with my friends. He even prevented me from being around my family as well, even to the point to where he got me a job with his sister so that his sister could keep an eye on me. As time went along, I started feeling, I don’t think this is what love is.
So I started speaking up for myself. And in doing so is when he became physical. He would hit me. Just little things would cause him to put his hands on me. After being physically abusive, he would be really sincere when he apologized, letting me know that he did it because he loves me and he didn’t want to lose me. Because that was my first real relationship, I thought that was normal and I didn’t think anything of it.
My doctors recommended that I have surgery and remove myself from where I was at. I was in the hospital once a month. It’s the sickness that I actually developed. If it wasn’t taken care of, I would most likely not be able to have children. I went into surgery. I was all alone. I remember waking up and just feeling really broken. That was the turning point for me.
When I woke up, I just remember, I can’t be living like this anymore. And it was on that hospital bed that for the first time in a long time, I cried out to the Lord and I said, you know what? I need you to save me. And I didn’t know how it was going to play out, but I just needed him to take me out of this hole that I had dug myself in. I called my mom. At work was the only place that my mom could come visit me.
Junior Vesikula: Her mom was the one who reached out and told us what Betty was going through and her situation. Growing up together, I’ve always seen her as so happy. And just seeing her being in a different state, I didn’t want to see her that way.
Betty Vesikula: It was during my lunch break that my mom called me to go downstairs to the first floor. And that was a huge surprise where Junior and his siblings were all waiting.
Junior Vesikula: It was like a mission. I was like, let me go get Betty out of this.
Betty Vesikula: My mom told me that, we’re just taking you out for lunch and we’re going to drive you to Sacramento because his family is there.
Junior Vesikula: I wasn’t thinking about the consequences of what might happen if he shows up.
Betty Vesikula: I remember feeling really scared. Scared for my life. I kept telling my mom, promise me you’re going to bring me back to work before my shift is over. So she promised me. And that’s when I jumped in the car with the whole family and they drove me 2 hours away to Sacramento.
I feel like everything happened real quick that night. What I thought was me going to meet the family again after years and years turned into something else. My parents and Junior’s parents called the both of us into his dad’s room. My mom just explained and poured everything to his parents, letting them know everything that I was struggling with. My mom and Junior’s dad, I mean, they just looked at each other and they said, okay, here’s the solution. This is what we’re going to do.
Junior Vesikula: Betty, we want you to be happy and this is going to happen. You’re going to marry Junior.—And I was sitting right there.
Betty Vesikula: We feel like you both are called into ministry. You can do great things for the building of God’s kingdom. My mind immediately went back to everything that the guy I was with did for me. I was currently engaged to him. I still had the ring on my finger. Even though I felt scared, there was a sense of peace that just came over the room. Junior, he told us that he had been having visions.
Junior Vesikula: It was a dream. It felt so real. I was carrying a girl, a sick, sick girl. It was so dark in the house and I was praying, Lord, if you want me to heal her, just turn on this light bulb. I think God spoke to me to bring her to the light. I knew that Betty was abused in her relationship, but I didn’t know that she was very sick. I didn’t know that until after. And I was like, Hey, God gave me this vision. It must be you.
Betty Vesikula: This God sense of peace just hovered over everyone and that decision. It sounded crazy, but we just fell to the Lord at that moment.
Junior Vesikula: It went so quick. We found out that we were married like two, three weeks later.
Betty Vesikula: When our parents placed us together, because back in my young days, I did have a crush on him, I think it caused me to believe, like, okay, maybe it would work.
Junior Vesikula: When I was little, her mom’s always telling me, Hey, one day you’re going to marry my daughter.
Betty Vesikula: She was like, you can go and date anyone you want, but you’re going to marry my daughter.
Junior Vesikula: And even when I was walking with one of my ex-girlfriends in Fiji, she’d be like, Junior, remember, you’re going to be my son-in-law.
Betty Vesikula: To be honest with you, at the beginning of our marriage, we did struggle a lot. I was still working through some issues.
Junior Vesikula: I know at times when we argue, she thinks that I’m going to beat her or smack her. Those were the struggles in the beginning. And because her engagement was still fresh.
Betty Vesikula: I think what helped us a lot was that our parents walked alongside of us every step of the way.
Junior Vesikula: And in the process, then we started to learn each other. I think the main thing now is that we have a foundation of love that Christ has really poured upon us and nothing changes.
We both knew in our heart growing up that God had a purpose for us. Even when we got married, even with all the struggles, we knew deep within our heart that God was calling us to something greater.
Betty Vesikula: We committed to fasting and praying over God’s calling in our lives. We knew it was in ministry. We just didn’t know where or how until that day I started taking the kids back to The Salvation Army. My husband and I are both serving here. We’re going on ten months now being officers. We are having the time of our lives. We’re still learning how to lead ministry, how to lead our people.
Knowing that God is with us and this is where he wants us to be just gives us that sense of peace and perseverance, just to keep pushing through. We work so well together. I feel like we’re two different parts of a puzzle piece that God made for each other. My husband and my six children, they are home for me. When I look back, all I can say is that I have seen the fingerprints of God every step of the way, every season.
Junior Vesikula: After everything, after we got married, she was never sick again. It’s crazy. That sickness usually comes back. Never happened. Praise God.
Betty Vesikula: When I look at my children, you know, I’m just in awe of God blessing me. He would love me that much that he would entrust six, not one, but six beautiful children into my care.
Junior Vesikula: Even though we’ll go through struggles as a couple or family, we feel God’s love and we know that we are called to love each other.
Betty Vesikula: We try to be open with our children, having open conversations with them and reminding them that they are loved despite what they do. It doesn’t matter who you were yesterday or what you did in your past. His grace is sufficient, he loves you. What matters most is that today he wants to make something beautiful out of your life.
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