HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Pearl” is a pseudonym. Other names have been changed to obscure identities.
Content Warning: Descriptions of emotional, physical, sexual, and religious abuse.
< Part One
Part Two: Failures—Mark, Elisha, and Brent
I met a guy in NCFCA. Let’s call him Mark.
He was a bit older than I was and his family was in ATI too. He was cute, but the best part for me was that he was “sooo godly.” We chatted online a lot, and I developed a crush on him. In other words, I didn’t “guard my heart” like I was supposed to. I went on a Journey to the Heart (IBLP speak for going to the woods and learning how depraved you are and what you need to do to be acceptable before God for ten straight days). I convinced myself that this crush was wrong and I need to stop talking to Mark. I took a “vow” of single service for a year, until I was 18. Then I would be “old enough” to get married and it would be okay to have feelings for a guy.
Of course, Mark, who still had a crush on me, didn’t take this very well and we still ended up talking a lot. He wanted to come to visit and meet my family. They told him no. He was going to ask to court me.
Eventually I got over him, but not before he called my dad and apologized for “stealing my heart.” That just proved to me how perfect he was. Now I realize if I had married him I would probably have several children by now and would still be part of everything that I now eschew.
I guess I have my parents to thank for that.
A couple years passed. I had a few crushes but nothing substantive, and I had yet to hold a guy’s hand. Then I met Elisha. I dated him for six months behind my parents’ backs. As soon as they found out, they forced us to break up. I was heartbroken, so we kept in contact…a little here, a little there. In reality, even though he said he loved me, he just wanted to see what he could get out of me. He preyed off my innocence.
A few months after the forced break-up, I went back to him, and he raped me.
He raped me, and I didn’t know it was rape because he used his finger. I bled for days and I didn’t know it was a crime. He told me never to come back because I’d refused what he wanted. I didn’t realize that I shouldn’t feel guilty. I thought it was all my fault, so I suffered the trauma in silence.
A few months later I found out Elisha was a pimp. He was a pimp who abused and manipulated me, and I had no idea. I thought it was all my fault. I felt guilty for something that would never have happened if I’d been taught to recognize abuse instead of living in it. I felt guilty when I should have been feeling free for finally being away from him. I was drowning in despair because I thought I was worthless to any other man because of what I’d done with Elisha, even though I had never consented to any of it.
But I wasn’t taught consent, so I didn’t know any better.
After Elisha I met Brent. Ours was a long-distance relationship and my parents controlled every second. They wanted to know about every text and phone call so that things wouldn’t “move too fast.” But then when I wanted to go visit him, they insisted on meeting him too. Instead they scared him off by their intensity and he broke up with me in an email. My parents had interfered with my past three relationships.
Surely once I turned 21 they would let me be an adult and make my own decisions.