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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Re: My Evangelical Experiences

Post by Noname » Mon Jan 27, 2020 1:08 pm

Hi babet,

I also have an evangelical background and grew up experiencing that toxic joyfulness. Children are to be joyfully obedient, women are to be joyfully submissive. And if you're feeling anything other than joyful, well then you're just doing everything wrong. You're not praying enough, you're not believing enough, you aren't submitting enough, etc. Having "bad" thoughts or "bad" feelings is just as bad as doing bad things. When you grow up in that environment it makes normal emotions feel uncomfortable or scary. The thing is, emotions themselves are neither good nor bad - they just are. It's what we do with those emotions that matters. I'm still working on being comfortable sitting with and feeling emotions, and finding healthy ways to express them or work through them. It's a process. A good therapist can help.

Agreeing with others that it's never too late to start healing. Your age doesn't make you any less worthy of support, healing, and self-growth. You have every right to those things.

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Re: My Evangelical Experiences

Post by babet » Sun Feb 09, 2020 5:04 pm

Sometimes I think I fall off the face of the earth or hide within myself. I did some of that after sharing my experience of church. I also talked to my minister a couple of times since I posted this. I skipped services this morning because I can't face my minister. It's not shame but I feel trivialized if that makes sense. The couple times I met with my minister he tried to get me to see the positive side of what happened to me while growing up. I did find positive things for my life but I believe I could have (and should have been allowed to) find those positives without the abuse. I think, for me, the last straw was when my minister told me there's no gain without pain. Maybe I didn't understand his meaning but it felt like I should be grateful that it happened or my life may have taken a different, less something path.
I do think it's time to find a therapist. Thank you for helping me to understand that no-one is too old to heal. I'm tired of the nightmares I've been having, the flashbacks. This is new to me. I think while I was raising my children I kept much of this at bay because I was so busy raising them that I buried everything or put it all on a back burner. I'm not that busy any longer. I wish I could forget everything that happened but I think I've started with panic attacks. The silliest things bring images to my mind and it's like those images take over. I have a physical response to those images, last weekend I went to the ER because I was so sure I was having a heart attack.
So much has been going on. A week and a half ago we were going half mad thinking we were going to lose my three year old grandson. He had the flu and was airlifted to a children's hospital to the pediatric ICU. Absolute terror. The little stinker was better the next day and is back to normal now. He was diagnosed with Influenza B and asthma. It was the asthma that made is so horrible for him. I blamed all of that for my ER trip but I had another episode last night, it's the flashbacks I'm having. I feel like I'm gong mad.
I have a confession that I have to make to my husband before I can tell him I want to see a therapist. He knows that my parents were abusive but I never told him everything. Heck, I didn't want to face everything. He doesn't know half of it. He doesn't know about the sexual abuse, or the extent of that abuse. I'm nervous about telling him but I know I need to. On the surface I do have such a wonderful life and so much to be grateful for but inside I don't know. I don't feel like I deserve the good things and I'm always waiting for the good to go away. I'm afraid to tell him because I fear he'll see it as me lying to him...for our entire time together. I know I have to do it but I fear that admitting it will be akin to admitting that my entire life is a lie. Like I said, I feel like I'm going mad.
How do I find a therapist? I don't want to feel trivialized like I felt with my minister. My minister is a a wonderful human being but he doesn't understand. I need a therapist who will hear me and understand, someone who can guide me in the right direction to find healing. I would really appreciate any insight you can give me as to how to find a good therapist.

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Re: My Evangelical Experiences

Post by coconuts » Sun Feb 09, 2020 5:50 pm

Oh babet,
so sorry your minister trivialized what you endured. I think abuse in the name of God is a terrible sin. Breeding fear instead of love. I have been minimalized before. It feels awful.
The physical reaction to your memories sounds familiar. Those panic attacks are awful.
Wow,how scary with your grandson. Glad the hospital knew how to treat him quickly and well and get him better.
I hope sharing with your husband is a healing thing for you.

As for finding a therapist. If you are in a bigger area / larger city, I would search online reviews. Look up what you can for trauma informed therapists in your area. Check with insurance and such You can even look up tips for finding the right therapist for you online. Then schedule an initial consult and go in with some questions. See how you feel in the environment. Some nervousness is to be expected. But does it feel safe and confidential?. What are your gut feelings?. You don't have to accept the first therapist you see but if it feels right you don't have to keep looking either.
You could also look into different types of therapy and see if the therapist is trained in it. EMDR, DBT, and such.
It's a lot to take it but also going in strong ready to find the right person tells yourself that you are looking out for you. That you are important enough.

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Re: My Evangelical Experiences

Post by Watercolor » Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:05 pm

Hi Babet,

So glad your little grandson is doing better. Him becoming so ill sounds terrifying and it must be a tremendous relief now!

I'm sorry for all your symptoms and suffering. It can really help to have a therapist normalize those for you. In other words, for him/her to validate that you are having normal experiences, in light of what you lived through.

I hope when you open up to your husband that he will be gentle, receptive and compassionate. Try not to be hard on yourself about not having shared the extend of abuse with him before now. If you feel that it would be appropriate, you could let him know some of the reasons that you've delayed doing so.

It's sad that your minister minimized what happened to you. That's very painful. What usually helps is for someone to do just the opposite, to validate what you've been through and to understand the level of distress that abuse brings. Unfortunately, I've had a number of past experiences where believers and leaders have criticized and invalidated, insisted that a person should be over it, and spiritually glossed over the suffering. There are no spiritual pat answers to abuse! People saying things like that only adds fuel to the fire. I wish more pastors, etc. understood how far reaching the effects of trauma are.

As coconuts mentioned, it can take some researching and potentially some visits to secure a good therapist, or at least one who fits. Unfortunately, as in any other profession, there are great ones and not-so-great ones. There are a variety of personalities, approaches, styles, and so on. A lot of counselors and therapists put up profiles online so you can learn some things about them that way. I've sought out people who have experience treating sexual abuse survivors, trauma, PTSD and such. A fair amount of therapists will spend a few minutes on the phone with a potential client to let you learn a little about them before setting an appt. Some of those conversations can be really helpful. That usually can't happen in a larger practice where there's a group of therapists under one roof and the receptionist is gatekeeper and only sets up times.

I hope you find just the right person to help you.

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Re: My Evangelical Experiences

Post by Getup » Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:32 pm

I am so sorry for what you went through. Until I was about 5 my family and I attended a Pentecostal church because my mother grew up Pentecostal and most of her family still attended. Pentecostal churches are very strict and rigid with there members pretty much if you were a woman and you cut your hair, wore a skirt that was above the ankle, wore pants, wore jewelry, wore makeup or didn't have a long sleeve shirt on you were considered a whore and drawing attention to yourself. You were trying to tempt good men away from God. The men had rules as well but I think they were definitely harder on the women. I am very grateful that my parents decided to leave the church. I think that experience definitely opened the door for the sexual abuse that I endured. I definitely thought I was to blame I felt like a whore and I kept my mouth shut.
I don't understand how churches condon and offten encourage abusive behavior. It definitely opens children up to abuse. They don't know the difference between legitimate punishment and abuse.
What happened to you was abuse and you are not overreacting. I am glad that you are calling it out as what it is. I am also glad your grandson is doing good that must have been a relief.

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