My Evangelical Experiences

A discussion area specifically for survivors who suffered physical, emotional, and verbal child abuse. This forum can also be used for Members who suffered sexual abuse at the time of physical, emotional and verbal abuse.

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babet
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My Evangelical Experiences

Post by babet » Thu Jan 16, 2020 2:19 pm

For the past couple of days I have been feeling very angry and I don't like to feel that way. When I feel angry I feel like others have won, have broken me in a way, have taken control. I don't want my today to be colored by my yesterday. I don't want to be angry. Angry people are scary. I feel like a scary person when I feel this angry.
I don't really know what section to post this or anything else in. Like many, my abuse constitutes emotional, verbal, physical and sexual. It's a mixed up mess of so much that nothing seems to fit anywhere neatly. I feel messy today.
Sometimes I make choices that I know are stupid but, I don't know curiosity (?) seems to win out. I don't know if it's curiosity or some warped or damaged part of me that makes those choices that make me feel like I'm sinking. Anger is a heavy emotion to carry. It's exhausting. So many of the why's don't have and never will have an answer.
I watched Dr. Phil, two episodes about abuse that occurred in a boarding school run by evangelical Christians. I knew it was a stupid, stupid, stupid thing to do but some warped part of me wanted or needed to know what happened. I was raised in an evangelical church. So much anger and misery hides behind religion. People, my parents, hid their abuse behind the curtain of religion. Faith can be a beautiful thing but I don't think religion can be.
The church I was forced to grow up in not only hid abuses it praised and encouraged those abuses. The emotional abuse of being told over and over again that you are born bad and deserve to be punished doesn't inspire a child to be good. It causes a child to feel despair, to feel unlovable. They robbed me of a safe place because they taught my parents to beat me. They were told if they loved me they would find the evil in me and beat it out of me.
I have so many horrible memories of being punished in the name of religion. Our church had two offices in the back of it. One was used for church business such as counting donations or setting up appointments. The other was simply called the parent's room. It was for parents to go to if a child needed a break or a mother needed to breastfeed. None of that happened in that room. At least I never saw a mother breastfeeding or a child taking a break. All us kids knew it to be the spanking room. It was painted green and it had a love seat, two end tables with lamps on them, a desk and two straight back chairs in it. On the wall next to the door hung a paddle with the words "children obey your parents" painted on it. I can't believe the things I remember about that room. The spankings I got in that room were horrible. What I remember the most is feeling terrified, not remorseful but terrified. My dad would pull down my underpants before lifting my dress and by the time the spanking was finally over my underpants would be on the floor. He never had me put my underpants back on. He would put them in his pants pocket and we would return to the church hall for the remainder of the service. Of course, no-one saw that I had no underpants on but it was torture because I was not only convinced everyone knew but I also had to deal with the knowledge that I wasn't going to be needing my underpants when I got home because I had an "appointment" with my dad's belt. My father would actually say to me that he would be keeping my panties because I wouldn't be needing them when we go home.
I don't think there was a Sunday when no child was taken to that spanking room. Everyone knew what was going to happen when a parent escorted their child to that room. We could hear the cries of the child being "corrected". I believe it was meant to be humiliating to the child and when a parent did this to their own, it was like they earned some invisible badge of honor for it. A good parent would beat their child into submission.
When any of my siblings or I got spanked at church, as soon as we got home my father would take us to the dining room and we had to lean on the bench at the dining table and hold still while he beat us black and blue with his belt. When that was done we had to sit for two hours on that bench to practice sitting quietly in church.
Sundays were a pot luck dinner event at my parent's home. The people in our "prayer circle" would bring a dish and we would have Sunday dinner together. I remember the shame of sitting on that bench when these people came to the house. They knew what had happened and they would praise my parents for being good parents. I don't even know how many times my mother would force me to lift my dress so they could see the marks my father's belt left on my bottom and hearing the praise the lords and chants of how lucky I was to have parents who loved me so much.
The leader of that church is dead and I'm glad. I hate feeling so angry. I'm not sure what to do with it.

there
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Re: My Evangelical Experiences

Post by there » Thu Jan 16, 2020 3:46 pm

Hi, babet,
That sounds horrible. I wish you didn’t go through that abuse. Such hypocrisy. Sigh.

Please don’t criticize yourself for watching the Dr. Phil episodes.

I think the anger you feel that is there for a good reason. It was was incredibly unfair and abusive what was done to you as if it was a good thing.
Yes, anger can be scary to feel, but not all anger is used to hurt someone else. Sometimes the anger we feel comes with clarity, or can move us to protect ourselves, to make sure the abuse doesn’t happen again, or to become part of a supportive community like this one.

I agree that anger can be exhausting. I’ve found that exercise and meditation help me not to feel it all the time. There’s a point at which I wanted to be done with feeling anger all the time.

If you need to let any feelings out, here is a place you can safely *rant*, or cry, or feel whatever.

Supporting you, babet.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” Helen Keller

Watercolor
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Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:46 pm

Re: My Evangelical Experiences

Post by Watercolor » Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:29 pm

I feel such outrage, reading and thinking about what you experienced at that church and in your family. What warped people and teachings! And all of the constant shaming on top of the physical abuse they heaped upon you and the other children. I'm sure you were just terrified and were always waiting for the next shoe to drop. Those were very cruel punishments and showing other people your marks was super humiliating. And in the guise of religion, worse still.

So, so sorry you had to endure such awful treatment. You have many reasons to feel anger, for sure.

I'll mention some of the techniques I've used to release some anger, for what it's worth. Pretending an offender is sitting in a chair in the room with me and telling them off out loud. I find it helpful to give voice to anger safely. Tearing up papers, old phone books, etc. Scribbling big with wide black and red markers. Throwing things that won't harm anything (like crumpled up paper, once I used strawberries--that one required a little cleanup), using a foam bat to beat the bed. I've tried angry stomping, angry dancing. You may not need to "express" the way I do, so toss this out if not useful. Wishing you much healing.
Last edited by Harmony on Fri Jan 17, 2020 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: edited from MT to NT due to no triggering language nor content.

coconuts
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Re: My Evangelical Experiences

Post by coconuts » Fri Jan 17, 2020 5:17 am

So sad for what you experienced at the hands of such selfish people. And it always makes me angry when people use religion as punishment. To me that has to be a horrible sin.

I struggle with feeling angry too. It burns hot in me but usually fizzles out quickly. I just cant handle it. It's against everything I was every trained to do. To feel angry back would never improve the situation. My T told me that depression is anger turned inward. It's a hatred and anger that we aim right at ourselves. He feels that anger turned outwards, what we know as anger, is healthier. It is healing. Because it begins to place the blame where it really belongs. On the people who hurt and betrayed innocent children

babet
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Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2019 10:21 pm

Re: My Evangelical Experiences

Post by babet » Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:35 pm

I wish I could have responded to you kind souls sooner, I read what you wrote but it has taken me this long to be able to respond. I don't know why it is but I find the sharing humiliating, even though I feel the need to let it out. I think I feel judged all the time, even when people are supportive I feel like I'm being judged and should be ashamed of myself. It's difficult to explain.
Thank you so much for your kind and supportive responses.
There, I do think that my anger is justified but there's something about feeling the anger that makes me feel vulnerable if that makes any sense. I don't want to feel vulnerable to my past so I have a difficult time with the anger. I know I squash things down. Sometimes I think about getting a counselor but I'm old now, approaching 60 so I'm not sure there's any purpose in starting that now. I'm not great at meditating but I surely could use some exercise and you're right, I know I feel better when I move more...get out of the house and power walk or swim at the Y...it's just finding the motivation to do it. :?
Watercolor, forgive me but I laughed at the strawberries because I remember a meltdown (good grief I was pregnant at the time) when I threw a dozen eggs at my kitchen walls. Talk about a mess. My poor husband thought I had gone crazy but he helped me clean it up. I like that you seem comfortable with expressing your anger. The shaming was worst than the beatings. The pain from the beatings would ease and go away but the shaming didn't, I relive it over and over again.
Coconuts, yes if fizzles for me too and then I feel like a blob of nothingness and it's difficult to move, it just takes everything out of me. I too was trained to not be angry, to be "joyful". Romans 5:3-4 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Being unhappy was a punishable offense in my parent's home. I have bouts of depression and what your therapist told you about it being anger turned inward makes sense. It makes a lot of sense. Thank you.

Harmony
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Re: My Evangelical Experiences

Post by Harmony » Sun Jan 19, 2020 7:35 pm

Oh you dear members who have been harmed this way,

All I can say is that life brings enough of its own sadness and pain. Adults don't need to inflict pain on those in their care, especially as if acting "ordained by God".

I too saw the television program you to which you refer. I was horrified by this school and church. It is so very sad for any one of you hurt in this manner. This is ritual abuse. It is not merely physical punishment.

If you are seeking treatment for wounds of this sort of abuse look for a trauma specialist. Look for one who deals with ritual abuse. It is a highly specialized area. A general counselor probably may not be trained for undoing this type of harm. With help you can learn and cope. Then in time you can even thrive. It likely is too much for most to heal from on their own.

Yes even in your 60s life is worth changing for the better. I sure hope that is so anyway Babet. Remember healing deep hurts as a child takes time. This takes a willingness to change. It takes tolerance of pain to heal. Be brave. You are worth it.

Harmony

EasyStreet
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Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:36 pm

Re: My Evangelical Experiences

Post by EasyStreet » Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:22 pm

Hi Babet,

I just wanted to let you know how your posts have touched me. In college in the early 70's I had encounters with various evangelical groups that were up to no good, but I managed to figure it out, and it wasn't my family so I could get out easily.

The most important fact in the above paragraph is that I was in college in the early 70's, making me an old geezer. I just wanted to tell you that the therapy experiences that I have had in the last year or so have been empowering, freeing, liberating beyond what I could have imagined.

Difficult, yes. Frustrating, yes. Rewarding, totally.

Am I "cured" ? (ha ha), do I still have problems with big chunks of daily life? yes. I've accepted who and what I am, with help from the therapy. And I've learned strategies to use when I am challenged by my environment/people. I wouldn't write it off just based on age. In my experience it helped.

This forum has helped, too, more than the therapy itself. These are the best people to hang around with. They get me, and I know they get you too. I'm glad you found us.

Be well, and welcome.
EasyStreet
Thanks for being.

fiercecheetah
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Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:55 am

Re: My Evangelical Experiences

Post by fiercecheetah » Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:29 am

Hi Babet,

Sorry to hear what you had to endure. It is unfair and your anger is totally justified.
But as you yourself correctly identified, it makes you vulnerable.

I don't think any age is too late to get help. We deserve to live every day to its fullest and with happiness. Every day we are robbed of it, our abusers win further.

Sending lot of wishes and encouragement your way.

Watercolor
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Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:46 pm

Re: My Evangelical Experiences

Post by Watercolor » Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:47 pm

Hi Babet,
Shame is so insidious, I think, especially religiously induced shame. I think it's been one of the hardest feelings to for me to identify in my own journey. At times, I'd know, Dang, I feel awful, but not be able to put my finger on what kind of awful.

There sure were a heap of people piling shame onto you back in the day, so no wonder you still struggle with feeling judged! So sorry that dynamic is strong.

I absolutely believe it's worth seeking therapy, support and healing, whether older or younger. The hope of feeling better in time and with some work, is worth so much!

Exercise helps me, too, though I also struggle with making it happen, being consistent and getting little strains that sideline me. So, it's fits and starts. But I find it's worth it to keep trying. :)

Oh, the strawberries were a laughing matter, as are a few of the squirrelly things I've tried over the years. A dozen eggs, eh? Yeppers, I can picture that mess, lol.

Argh, to the enforced "joy"! It isn't hard for me to imagine you trying to co-exist with and survive that teaching. Truly a cruel thing. My journey is different, but in my world, fear was considered a sin. Long story, but I've been a terrified person prohibited from owning and experiencing the strongest emotion in my life.

there
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Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:41 am

Re: My Evangelical Experiences

Post by there » Fri Jan 24, 2020 6:46 pm

babet,
I could stand to take my own suggestions, ha! I did do some bedtime yoga stretching before sleep last night. Today: walk the dog.

It is NeVeR too late to make choices or changes for yourself. I’m a bit older than you, and I’m starting my own business, slowly, and doing many things I couldn’t earlier in life due to the effects of abuse. I reFUse to lose because of abusers. They don’t get to decide my fate. My PCP says it’s never too late, too.

Anger, I know, is tricky. It’s understandable you’re afraid of anger. I imagine there was anger in the punishments they inflicted on you. It’s your call, how you handle feelings. For me, I try to allow myself to feel them and let them move through me. I hope I’m learning it some. My least favorite feeling is fear.

I hope you feel the care and support here, babet. I know it helps me immensely.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” Helen Keller

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