Hi. My name is Monica(as stated on my profile). I was a Fundamentalist Christian for 20 years, give or take times that I "backslid". My family was a hodgepodge of Christian faiths: my mother was baptist while my father was raised as a "good catholic".
At age 7, I had what many would call a conversion. The preacher had just finished his sermon, and I felt the impressed need to become a Christian. So I, of my own volition, converted. My faith was simple: Jesus loved everyone and people of other faiths were okay. My faith had not become toxic until I hit my preteens. At that time, I joined a Full Gospel Baptist Church which leaned heavily on talking in tongues and appearing "reasonable" to outside folks. I took to it like a duck to water, as that I wanted to do what God wanted me to.
By age 13 I was a Nondenominationalist. I had read many(too many?) books on the Christian faith, and believed that if only we set aside our petty denomination stuff and just accepted the whole thing(tongues, casting out demons, God raising folks from the dead). I adhered to the belief that anything not of God(aka Christian) was tainted and therefore should not come into my life. That included people. I still shudder that I told people with complete sincerity that they were going to hell unless they accepted Christ/stopped being Gay. But at that time, I really believed it was the right thing.
By my late teens, I started wondering if because of how I came about, and the things that happened to me in my own life tainted every good thing I tried to do. So, I began overcompensating even more. Giving more, working in the church more, and trying as hard as I could to save myself for the Christian Prince God had for me. Yes, I did believe in the lie that women were made for the home(even if they had a job) and men were to work.
All througout this time, my personality began to fracture. I would have moments of not remembering what I was doing. I'd split during conversations(as in body there brain def not there). I started obsessing over my sins and trying my hardest to be perfect like God commanded me to.
As for church protocol, I was to NEVER be alone with a person of the opposite sex. The reasoning was that if a man was alone with me, he would want to do something. As that men are weak and must be exhorted to holiness by their spiritually stronger sisters. I was to GUARD his purity as well as my own. So it was no small surprise that when a leader at the church attempted to rape me in my own home, I was told that I brought it on myself(by my cell leader, the leader himself, and my own mother). There was a bit of a coverup and we never spoke of it again.
The tipping point for my fall, and then my attempt at a life of reason occured around my 21st birthday. The summer before, I had a complete nervous breakdown: I was fasting more than eatting, reading my bible for hours, and praying for hours without relief. I honestly thought God had rejected me. Found me not worthy and wanted to blot me out from the family. The church I went to did NOT help. They demanded that I either speak to the pastor or one of the smaller pastors of the church and NOT seek psychological help outside of the church. I was told by various people to just read the psalms and "rest in god's love".
By this time I felt so unloveable that the only option was to remove myself. So, on Christmas Day, I attempted suicide by hanging. As obvious by the fact I'm typing, I failed. My mother, once verbally attacking me for my self-injurous behavior, put me in the hospital. I was miserable. But I talked to a psychatrist and two psychologists who gave me the diagnosis of depression. That, and they told me to NEVER go back to that church again, because it appears that it is a bit of an agitator of my depression and very well may be cult like. Since I was unable to really make the descision to not go(I had no car at the moment) the psychatrist and psychology both talked to my mother and tried their best to inform her that me plus that church equals possible dead me. She smiled and said she'd keep me away.
She lied. Long story short(too late), I began to question the church, it's methods, and christianity in general. Because I dared to question the method of leadership and some scriptures, I was kicked out of my cell group and blacklisted. Yes, I was shunned. Rumors were spread. It's still kinda raw, actually. But, after having the veil lifted, so to speak, I began to read. I first got my hands on God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. It literally became my tome(I'm a writer so I understood him far more than Dawkins).
It's 2011 and now, I'm making the move from who I used to be. The repercussions still occur(I get glares when I don't agree with scripture,dissent on gay/lesbian issues, etc). I know I'm pretty darn lucky to have gotten out with just a mood disorder, anxiety problems, and ptsd. Folks around my age in the same youth group I was in, weren't so lucky.
First of all I am sending you a big hug! I can certainly relate to what you have said and are saying. I love how people who are supposed to love, care for and watch out for you automatically (maybe to "save face" with the church) say it must be your fault the man wanted to rape you. I am so sorry you had to deal with that garbage. I did as well. I also have PTSD from my childhood and church related issues. I haven't found a counselor I can deal with yet though. At first I was told I had to go to church counselors. Eventually I figured out it was just more hogwash and stonewalling. Not really helping, unless you mean helping cloud issues and make me feel worse about myself.
I am glad you are out of there and hopefully safe? More hugs, you did the right thing!
Well, I will be safe soon. I'm moving out of the state(haha). But yeah,my mom is all about the saving face thing and her image since she's a doctor and a "pillar of the community". I'm just the insane(but smart) daughter with issues. But yeah, she totally believes it's my fault. Same thing with her former cell leader. So, I just can't win.
And I won't lie, it just seems like it's so much easier to say "Yes, it was my fault. I shouldn't have invited him into my house and assume that he was a well behaved gentleman instead of leacherous jerk." But that seems to be the way that the church works anyway. If you pray for something, and it didn't happen...you didn't have enough faith. If you are interested in a guy, but your cell leader prays and says no, God doesn't want you to marry them. The locus of control is no longer you. It's your cell leader, the pastor, heck..even the members themselves. And people go "You did that to yourself. How could you have done that?"
And I get a bit angry. Because honestly, the mental state you are in when you go "okay, you're my leader" isn't that stable. And if you already have issues(as I did) you are an easy mark. Couple that with the STRONG desire to make someone who is more important than you proud, it's some heady stuff. But no one wants to admit that there are some people, well meaning or no, who can get you to do some atrocious things. Granted, the worst thing I did was cut off good friends because they weren't Godly enough. Turned down guys because God hadn't told me that I was to be with them. Being angry because my bio clock was ticking and God hasn't sent THE ONE.
Keep on looking for help. I'm doing the same. But how the heck would a psychologist, therapist, or psychatrist say "I help folks who were spiritually abused"?
There should be a database of Just the ones who do, so you can search by state! BIG business LOL
Yeah, there totally should be!
Thanks for sharing your story. The first few steps away from religious abuse are always the hardest, but you're headed the right direction! You mentioned wanting to find a therapist who helps people who were spiritually abused. You may want to look up Marlene Winell from Berkeley (www.marlenewinell.net). She does weekend retreats, online support groups, and she also does therapy over phone or skype. I was in pretty bad shape, and she has been hugely beneficial to me and my recovery. Glad you're out, don't look back!
I will write more later, but I just wanted to say that it's definitely NOT your fault what happened to you and there are good therapists out there who can help. I found a therapist who specialized in trauma, and she's been really great. A good therapist can help support you in your decisions, remind you that you have choices, and back you up that attempted rape is NEVER your fault - certainly not for being alone with guy. It's not your responsibility to stop someone from raping you - if this were possible then no one would ever be raped and it is an epidemic in our world. Just know you have support here, and there is also a great website called Pandora's Aquarium for rape survivors - and there is a special private section for ritual abuse survivors.
Just to clarify a possible misinterpretation of this:
It's not your responsibility to stop someone from raping you
It's not your responsibility to stop someone from trying to rape you
You do have eveyones support for any actions you might take in order to defend yourself from a rapist.
Meddlesome is correct. Not only should people not rape, but they should not attempt it either - this is their responsibility entirely. It is not your fault at all. I can't stand how so many people think that if it was "just" attempted rape then "Oh you were so lucky" that you "escaped" being traumatized, when actually attempted rape is extremely traumatizing, not to mention that it usually includes some type of sexual assault or threat of such. Attempted rape isn't just some near miss, it is an assault of it's own, and a violation of one's safety.