I have been reading your blog for over a year...I have never commented, but I appreciate so much the work you are doing and that you never give up. I am just now having the courage to come out of the shadows a bit and it is due in large part to your website and your seemingly tireless efforts to make the truth known.
I grew up in a “regular” Baptist church -- an independent Bible-believing church and was abused there. Nothing was done.
My husband left me four years ago due to the difficulties stemming from the abuse...I won't take the time to go into it, but I am sure the lingering effects are very similar for abuse victims and you could fill in most of the blanks. Sadly, I refused to deal with them. We were in a Baptist church at the time that he left and what happened the next four years is almost as horrific as the sexual abuse that I experienced as a child.
We had been at this Baptist church for 8 years. My husband had been a deacon until a week before he left. ... The good news is that because he left, I was forced to face all that I had been blocking out for so long and I found a godly, safe counselor outside the church that helped me. The bad news... because I would not open up to the counselor at the Baptist church I was attending... because I refused to submit to their authority as men... because I would not trust them with my tender, broken heart nor would I turn on my husband and reveal why he left... I was shut out of this church...horrible things were said about me...I lost all my friends...I could go on and on...all this because I chose to go outside of "them" to get help. Mind you, I was faithfully attending, serving, my kids were in the Christian school...I love the Lord...but the things they wanted me to submit to...it was wrong and again was a completely different kind of abuse, but oh...just as horrific. Oh, this is almost impossible to express or try to explain...but I am sure you understand how hard it is to tell one's story, but how desperately one wants to be heard?
After a year of trying, I received a final letter signed by all the pastors and all the deacons releasing me from church membership. They also released me “to Satan.”
I had very quietly and respectfully requested that I be removed from church membership. I had never breathed a word against the church or its leadership. After all that had happened in the 4 years since my husband had left, my children and I decided we needed to leave. This was very difficult as the church was our life: Christian school, youth group, etc. My kids are teens and we had been there for over a decade. It was a family decision made carefully, tearfully and prayerfully. What I didn’t know was this . . . when you request to be removed from church membership, the ONLY reason you would do this is because you are involved in sin . . .
The pastor hired a private investigator to follow me for a period of weeks to “prove” I was involved in an immoral relationship. Of course this could not be proved as it was not true.
My response from the beginning… was to categorically deny the allegations, request again that they release me from membership, and to ask them to please cease all contact with me. They continued to contact me… every time threatening public discipline.
I would love to say that I just let that roll off my back and that I didn’t care what was made public, but I did care a lot. I cared because of the injustice of it, the unfairness of it and the humiliation of it. The feeling of something being completely manipulated and out of your control . . . well, I can only liken that to the sexual abuse I experienced as a child.
This all culminated in the final letter. . . So I guess that’s the end of the story . . but not really. I am shunned in grocery stores and malls, my kids lost all their friends, I am anxious whenever I leave my house for fear of who I might run into. . . The hardest part is my kids. They are struggling with ‘’religion’ … with trust… with what they believe. I am barely hanging on myself after a lifetime entrenched in this . . . how do I help them?
We are in a new church, but most Sundays as we all get in the car I look around at my children and think . . . “what am I going to do?” I see the same look in all of our eyes that I see in pictures of victims of other atrocities . . . I know to a much lesser level . . . I would never say it’s the same only that I see similarities in the haunted looks.
It is hard for me to put this into words. It is easier to do it here though, because I know that you will read it and will nod your head all the while and whisper “yes” and “I know”. How do I know this? Because it is what I did when I read your story and what I continue to do when I read your blog and read the comments that follow.
I pray for you everyday.