Escaping Spiritual Abuse: A Survivor’s Tale -Part 3

Among other “sinful” things were Barbie dolls. They were not allowed because they did not look like real women, and my parents feared that I would aspire to look like that (but for some reason it was okay to watch superhero movies and cartoons where they portray unrealistic expectations). Barbie’s clothes could be removed, which made her an “immodest” doll; also, she was a straight up “feminist,” with her many career roles. They believed that Barbie did not portray motherhood and family; therefore she was not a good toy choice. Once I went over to a friend’s house and asked my mother’s permission to play Barbies with her; she allowed it. Later when we were home, she apologized to me, saying that she was wrong for allowing me to play with those dolls.

Ear piercing was “destroying the temple God made;” Mom said that if God had wanted holes in our ears, He would have put them there Himself. I begged to get mine done; the answer was “No,” until I was fifteen. She then told me that I needed to pray about it; nevertheless, she ended up not allowing it until I was eighteen. At twenty, I finally got my ears pierced and had a fun outing with a friend which I will not forget; still, I was guilt-ridden. The verses borne into my skull kept replaying in my mind, and I wondered if I had upset God and disrespected His creation.

Trick-or-treating and carving pumpkins were out of the question; Halloween was “of the devil.” We celebrated it by having a fun, candlelit dinner; but the only reason that came about was because my mother kept the lights off to hide from the trick-or-treaters.

Long hair was extremely important, and my father treated cutting it like an offensive sin. I remember feeling sickening guilt when I decided to cut mine. It went from waist-length to about bra strap length: definitely not short! Short hair was considered “liberal” hair; my parents called both my grandmother and aunt who have shorter hair, “liberals,” when in actuality they are very conservative. If I changed my hair color, Dad thought I was changing the way God made me, even though makeup was perfectly acceptable.

When I was nine, I started developing OCD. It just came like ‘Bam!’ out of nowhere. It seemed like I was a normal kid one day, then the next I was different. I felt responsible for everyone; right about then, I was pretty much not a kid anymore. I felt strong pangs of guilt over tiny things. Dad warned us to wash our hands more so that Mom did not get sick; she was pregnant with her sixth child. I also had to start changing the cat litter for her since pregnant women cannot.

This idea of not spreading germs to my mom was the trigger for my entire disorder. I tried hiding my quirks from my parents, but not all could be concealed. Sometimes I would quit some of the compulsions for a short while because my dad shamed me. The heart-pounding feelings over something already embarrassing were noticed by him; he made me feel strange and stupid, ridiculing me or using fear tactics. My parents never really helped me -not that it would have been real help anyway.

My parents did not really believe in doctors. Psychology was pretty much regarded as a worldly profession, and psychology classes in college were “brainwashing.” Besides, mental disorders “didn’t exist;” they thought only sinful people had them.

Dad asked if my OCD happened because of what my brother did to me; being the very young girl that I was, I saw no correlation. It did not occur to me that those events could have inspired this. I told my father “No.” He kept bringing up what Eel did and I got sick of hearing about it; I did not want to think of it anymore, or to feel like a victim. Also, I felt bad for my brother. If he really was repentant, he should not have to be punished for a past sin. I told Dad that I had forgiven him. (Save this information in the back of your mind.)

Eel did not change. He was evil to the core and I do not say this lightly. He had a deep hatred for my sister Tiffany (whom he also molested). He would often call her a “slut” or “whore” for no reason when she was between ten and thirteen. When he molested her, he did so threateningly, telling her he was doing it for the time she tattled on him to our mother.

Eel was violent to my little brother, beating him up nightly when he was only three, and treating him like a slave when he was older. He was highly manipulative, sometimes coming up with random stories for no apparent reason. One time he spit on my little sister and ran to my mother, saying that she spit on him. Another time he was angry with her and threw a CD across the room like a Frisbee, slicing her above the eye, which sent her to the emergency room for stitches. If you Google “Sociopath traits,” he fits the description to an almost perfect “T”: lack of empathy, using others for personal gain, manipulative, sexually deviant, compulsive lying, and torturing animals (to name a few).

My parents got involved with politics, and often ran off to meetings and events, leaving the kids home for me to babysit. Mom was obsessed with current bad world events, and end-of-the-world type scenarios. She feared the government and got heavily involved in conspiracy theories, which she would spend hours a day researching on the computer.

My mother delved into politics with my father so that “we could have a future.” She would tell us that we didn’t have a future, and spoke of all the gloom and doom we had to look forward to, obviously forgetting Jeremiah 29:11. She let her fears dominate her and believed there was going to be some sort of meltdown. (Well, there was; but not from world powers.)

Around this time, my parents nearly completely took their eyes off God. They obviously had messed up ideas before, but at this point they did not seem to bother spending time with Him. Dad even told me that since he had spent years reading his Bible, he did not need to anymore; that instead he should focus on politics.

Things in life get tied together though: the good with the bad. My family had political meetings next door to our house. My now-husband (I will call him “Darcy”) started showing up there and soon became friends with Eel, having no idea what kind of a person he really was. I saw this (very attractive 😉 ) guy here and there, but never spoke to him. Besides, he already had a girlfriend and probably didn’t even notice me; also I was interested in someone else. I could not help but at least notice him though…just a little bit (ahem, okay; a lot…including sneaking around and spying on him when he was hanging out with my brother just so I could get a good look!).

In December of 2011, we officially met and started talking. I had a very hard time conversing with guys. The main reason why nothing much happened with me and the last one, was because I could hardly speak to him. This may have had something to do with the unhealthy mindset I had toward boys. I felt very uncomfortable around most of them and was wary of not “giving them the wrong idea.” Even now as a married woman, I still have the tendency to be uncomfortable around men, and have a difficult time simply seeing them as fellow human beings with whom I can be friendly. My mind jumps to the idea that I need to avoid them as much as possible, so that I don’t act too nice and send the wrong vibes.

The story of how I ended up with my husband is quite a good one. My infatuation with the previous boy was unhealthy. He was not a good character: very conceited and rude. After three years of being obsessed with him and finally surrendering it to God, I was able to let go. I had prayed that he and I would end up together, but God told me “No.” I was upset, but not the kind of upset I had anticipated. I thought that if things didn’t work out, I would be devastated and never be able to get over him; yet was surprised at how quickly I moved past him! There was so much peace, and very quickly I felt okay that it was not going to work out.

About a month later, my husband and I were together. His relationship with his last girlfriend had ended that summer, which sly me knew about; I figured that I might have somewhat of a shot 😉 . Before this, I thought that I knew what was best for me, not wanting to trust God for fear He would send some ugly, old, gross guy that I had to marry in order to follow His will. How foolish was I! God sent someone way better than I imagined, and we hit it off right away: so different from the shaky, jittery feeling and inability to speak that I had with the other guy.

My husband-to-be was the opposite of the kind of boys in my community. He was *gasp* public-schooled, came from a family with only three kids, and was not raised Christian but became one later on. This actually was what I wanted. I did not want one of those homeschooled boys in a state of arrested development, who were shallow, Pharisee-like Christians.

We actually had a courtship/dating experience…how shocking! We had a courtship in the sense that he spent a lot of time with my family and got to know a lot about me; but we also went out on dates. He even moved into the apartment above our house, which was thrilling because it meant I could see him more.

I was worried about having a relationship before we met, because I thought my father was going to control it all. Dad was still of the patriarchy mindset; yet he did not follow through with a lot of the ideas he had set in stone for us. It was probably a combination of him knowing that we were resentful and not wanting us to turn against him, and my parents’ laziness in their child raising.

As the years went by, they focused their attention on other things such as politics. My father told me that I was always mature for my age and basically that he trusted me to be in a relationship; he told me to stay pure and left it at that. I was grateful for the freedom and that he trusted me to make my own decisions, but also wished he would care just a little bit more. Dad used to say that he would “court” the young man first. He barely even got to know Darcy, and we were both upset that he did not seem interested in having much of a relationship. Nonetheless, my parents loved him. This of course, was a short-lived moment in time.

Darcy spent a lot of time with my brothers; he tried to be there for them emotionally because of the trouble they had with our father. He tried to help them stay busy on various projects because he wanted to build things and make plans with them for future goals. He also helped my family out a lot. After awhile, Dad grew to feel jealous of him because his sons were spending more time with Darcy than him; but who could blame them? My father was not very uplifting or encouraging; he was instead controlling and patronizing.

My mother even looked to my husband’s leadership skills instead of my father’s. She was unhappy with how Dad did not seem to take emergency preparedness seriously enough, since she was planning for a meltdown; she would walk upstairs to Darcy’s apartment to complain about my father and ask advice on how to get him to be more serious. At twenty-something years old, he was put in many such uncomfortable positions.

There was a family friend in his forties (I will call him “Creep”) who came from the local church and would frequently visit our home. He made me feel uncomfortable, giving me attention that just seemed odd. I knew how to handle myself a bit though, and soon started dating Darcy. He acted bothered at first, but then left me alone.

After that, Creep spent a lot of time with my then twelve-year-old sister. He would take her on car rides, out to dinner, and shopping. Remember how we girls were not to ride alone in a car with a male? Mom had even said that we were not allowed to ride alone with a family friend who had known Dad before my parents’ marriage. Somehow though, it was acceptable for her twelve-year-old daughter to ride alone to God knows where, with a forty-three year old man we had only known for a few years. He would say very shocking things, like asking her to try on some tall high-heeled boots and telling her how she looked very mature.

My husband noticed that Creep was spending an inordinate amount of time with Tiffany, and we both asked her about it. She told us all the details of what was going on, but was scared to talk to our father. Darcy offered to bring it up, and one night we stood with her in front of Dad. He told my father what she had shared and how she was uncomfortable. He said that he wanted to help, yet felt like it was not his place; he was merely presenting it to my dad so he could deal with it. My father listened; he agreed that Creep was strange and should not be allowed to keep coming around. He intended to have a talk with him.

Afterwards, Tiffany and I went outside and listened underneath the window as my parents discussed the Creep issue. When Dad shared the details and said that he needed to do something about it, Mom adamantly disagreed: “We can’t lose all the friends we have!” Somehow the friendship of this awkward, strange dude who wanted to keep his background and birthday hidden, was more important to her than the safety and emotional stability of her preteen daughter.

Tiffany confronted our mother; she grew angry over the fact that her daughter had been eavesdropping on a private conversation. This revealed Mom’s true colors and was the beginning of me ending my relationship with her. She had shown her colors before, in my growing-up years; but this was just deep. Unacceptable. Unforgivable. It made me so angry that she willingly ignored my sister’s cry for help, and kept putting her back into an unsafe situation.

They still allowed Creep to come over, and months went by before my father decided to finally have that chat with him. Afterwards, he announced that it was “just as he thought:” Creep did not realize he was behaving oddly and was only trying to be kind because she reminded him of his little sister. After this, my mother demanded that Tiffany apologize to Creep. We still do not know why she was meant to be sorry. Perhaps because he had to endure embarrassment over being questioned. Mom incessantly nagged my sister to apologize to him, implying that she did not have to; but that she would not be doing as God wanted if she refused.

Darcy was at first enchanted by the outside view of my large Christian family. He wished he had more siblings and that his parents had given him spiritual guidance growing up, so he was attracted to our life. As time went on, he came to understand the truth. He saw the control my father exercised over his sons. Darcy once heard him bring my misbehaving two- or three-year-old little brother into the bathroom and tell him that he was the reason the family was getting torn apart and why no one wanted to show up at the dinner table. Darcy saw how Dad acted like his large family was his accomplishment: his kingdom and pride. My father even told me, “Your mother is a regular baby factory,” and would brag to us kids about how fertile she was.

My dad wanted to control Darcy and me; his dream was that we all live on the same plot of land. That way, he would get to still be the patriarch and have authority, even after I was married. Tiffany told me that when he started talking about us all living together, she flat-out told him that Darcy and I wanted to have our own life without him following us.

My father was okay with my husband until after our wedding. When he started to realize that Darcy was not the kind of man he could control, he started to dislike him. My husband was not afraid to tell him his true thoughts, to stand up to him or disagree with him. This did not make Dad happy at all. When someone disagrees with him, that is the end. Very passive-aggressively he marched onward, making stabs here and there until the meltdown of November 2013.

One thought on “Escaping Spiritual Abuse: A Survivor’s Tale -Part 3

  1. Wowwwww…i am now a more spiritually inclined person, but i do not believe in limited your child to experiences. All you can do is teach them the word of God and hope they will follow the right path. However, we all experience life in many ways. I am sorry you grew up with so many restrictions. I see it hasn’t tainted you and you have an amazing husband. 💕


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