Here is Annie’s story of religious abuse in the suburbs of Seattle:
Thanks for your site and your book. I visited your site numerous hours before ordering your book. Then, when I ordered it, I wept and wept when reading the Foreword alone.
When I did the Self Assessment Exercise, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this book was for me, as my score was out of site. I fell in the ‘significant’ range. To say that I have been in denial is an understatement, but that has been my defense—or means of survival—all these years.
Have I gone to counseling? Yes! Has it helped? Not at all. They tell me I have a wall built around me so high and so thick that no one can get in. Well, I wonder why!
You see, I grew up in a very strict, old fashioned, religious, go-to-church-every-time-the-doors-are-open home. Yet, when you are behind closed doors, it is an entirely different story. The behaviors manifested were not as Christ-like as one would expect. Very abusive would be an understatement, when it came to discipline measures in today’s society. Yet, it was not challenged at that time.
I was sexually abused by my older brother, repeatedly. This would take place after school each day, as my parents were not home. One day, they walked in and caught him in the act, and beat us both …. him for doing it, and me for allowing it to happen. Did that stop things? No, it continued to happen even more. It was my punishment from him. But I had to keep my mouth shut.
When he turned eighteen, he left home and went out of state. I felt a certain amount of relief as it stopped that abuse, but the pressures of the physical abuse were still in the home. I could not wait until I turned eighteen. I wanted to leave home as well and start my own life, or so I thought.
When I turned eighteen, I left the church that I had been raised in and started on a “hunt” for a new church. When I found what I thought was a wonderful, friendly, safe church to attend, I settled in and attended every week. I even met a really nice young man there, who I began dating every so often after I would get off work.
Soon, I became the church secretary, and would run the church bulletins each week. However, I would not talk to many people, as I had my guard up. One week, when I was there, the minister came in and asked me if he could talk with me. After getting done with the church bulletin, I went in to his study where he was and asked what it was he wanted to see me about.
He proceeded to get up and close the door. He said that he noticed I was quite withdrawn and asked if everything was alright at home, etc.
I said, “Yes.”
Then, he proceeded to come on to me, as I was sitting there in the chair. I was astonished at his mannerisms and asked him what in the world he thought he was doing. He said he was sorry; he just thought of me as his daughter.
I said, “What! Would you rape your daughter?” Then, I ran out of the study. I got in my car and sped off, driving around and thinking. I drove to an area that I usually went to to think about things which was by a lake. I sat there crying my eyes out.
Before I knew it, there he was! Apparently, he had followed me and, in my state of mind, I did not even realize it. He proceeded to enter the passenger door and attempt to rape me again. I kicked him and shoved him out the door and sped off, driving erratically until I got home. I was crying my fool head off. I straightened my clothes, and hair, wiped off my face and went inside. I knew I couldn’t tell my parents.
Why … just to get beat again? Hell no!
So, I quietly went to bed and cried into my pillow. I had a younger sister who thought I had broken up with my boyfriend, so she tried to console me. The next day, I went to the sheriff’s office to report what had happened. Did they believe me? No! Come to find out the minister was also an auxiliary for the sheriff’s department, so this was all just swept under the carpet. He was one of theirs, and it was not to be heard of. So nothing was done.
I told my boyfriend about it. His parents were on the church board, and they said to confront the church about it. When I did, I was scoffed at and ran out of the church. Because it was an “independent” church, they backed their beloved pastor instead.
This was the beginning of the end—well, in some ways. He has lost as well. God is in control. Even though I have been struggling with this for many years, it has affected my life in sooooo many ways even still.
The minister has paid the price as well. I have seen him lose his church and one of his sons go to prison. He has had many health issues. I could go on and on, but God is the vindicator. He will take care of things.
There have been numerous other incidents, as “trust” is a major issue for me. “Love” seems so foreign. To give love is one thing, but I can’t receive it. Life has rendered so many losses. Time has slipped through my hands; it seems.
What is left? Do I really want to know?
Do I believe working the 11 steps to spiritual freedom can help Annie reconnect with a loving God? You bet I do—Jack Watts.
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