Stephanie, like most of our readers, married an abuser and, to make her plight worse, her church and pastor added to the abuse. Stephanie wants to tell her story, so we are publishing it here in a series. AND we are going to include the emails and letters her ex pastor and church sent her. This first part will be a bit longer than the next few because it is a summary of her story, and as you know, our stories are very hard to summarize. Many thanks to Stephanie!
[In your comments to this story, see how many typical abuser tactics you can identify here. Naming them will certainly help others who are following the blog]
MY story… It began when we were childhood friends. We knew each other’s families well. He is 5 years older than me, so I played with his younger brother and sister. I knew he liked me and he attended all our birthday parties. Many years later Terrance friended me on Facebook and we started talking a lot about church because he said he had been saved and was now attending church. I was impressed because I knew of his bad childhood and that he got into trouble with the law.
I had just left a Pentecostal church and was burned out working in childrens church. He kept inviting me to attend on Sunday or Wednesday night for church and I finally visited. It was a Reformed Baptist Church and it was small with only 6 families.
We dated on and off for about a year. We had premarital counseling a few times. Then he said he wanted to get married before the end of the year. So in 2015 we were married. Before we were married I was working as a ESE (special needs) para professional in the school system and had been there for 14 years. He said he didn’t want me to work due to religious beliefs that the wife stay at home. I agreed because I wanted to be a stay at home wife/mom one day. He also said he didn’t belive we should celebrate Christmas and or Easter or any other holildays because they are paganism. So we didn’t exchange Christmas presents nor participate in Easter egg hunts with families. I had to leave one family Easter egg hunt prior to it beginning. We slightly celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. But I couldn’t cross him or disagree with his beliefs.
Life was good at the beginning with his promises of making his place he lived in a home for us. He had cut back on his gambling. We were enjoying trips and cruises together. We enjoyed each other and being out of town. But at home it wasn’t the same.
I wasn’t happy in the living conditions. He inherited his grandfather’s property with a small building that he lived in. It was infested with spiders and mice in the walls. It had broken down porches and rotting wood around the place. And I wasn’t permitted to use toxic chemicals to kill the spiders. The property had his families junk on it. He kept telling me when he paid them off he would clean it up. Ok… how much more left to pay? I was never informed of the total amount. But he did not remodel the place nor clean it up. He told me every winter that we would get a washer and dryer. But no washer and dryer were ever provided.
Terrance continued to impose his rules on me. I wasn’t allowed to vote, nor was I permitted to listen to any secular music. I could only listen to the channel that had Bible preaching, and nothing else.
Going now on year #3. He had became more annoyed, ignited, frustrated, upset, and mad with me. I could never say or do anyting right. He would say things to me like “I don’t know why you haven’t burned yourself yet.” And I couldn’t talk on the phone correctly either. He always said that I never asked or got the right answers when I made his calls. His gambling had also increased. I did overhear a conversation with someone bragging about some gambling he did and didn’t tell me.
I was made to attend church on Sundays and on Wedneday nights. If I didn’t attend I was not allowed to participate in the next day’s activivies. He would attend when he felt like it. And he rarely attended on Wednesday nights.
Gradually he seemed to be more moody, controlling, irritable, annoyed, and upset with me and he moved to sleeping on the couch. He said we needed to get off Facebook to study the Bible more. By the way, we live in the woods with no internet or television except on our phones. He had mentioned that the next plan was to switch my phone to flip phone because he said I didn’t need internet access and I should be reading the Bible more.
So I asked him one morning what was the plan for this place. He said he wasn’t putting any money into it. I had enough so I left him a note telling him to clean up and remodel the place to make it safe and decent and I will be back. That afternoon I received a call from him. He said, “I have cut your access to the bank account. You have no job. Bring that damn Tahoe (vehicle) to the house. So what are you going to do now? Guess you better come home.”
Well, I texted my pastor’s wife to meet with her the next day. She cried with me and didn’t know how I was living there, and understood what I felt. As a result, the pastor and his wife met with my husband and me. When we had sat down, Terrance throws the note I had left him to the pastor and says “she lied about it all.” At the meeting we discussed 1st Corinthians 13, and we were to go over the chapter at home together, make a list, get a budget and get pest control, and to meet with them again next week. Not one time did the pastor ask me how I felt or my concerns. Instead the pastor’s wife asked Terrance if the note hurt his feelings? I managed to bring up Terrance’s gambling and that I was still waiting on a washer and dryer. Pastor says ” Well is it hurting the budget?” I said, “well, I don’t have a washer and dryer.” He made no comment except “set up a budget.”
The pastor added that right now it would be best if you both aren’t around your families. “You and Terrance need couple time without your families involved. And you (meaning me) need to go home to your husband.” Finally, Terrance added that I was not to go and clean up an elderly friends house either, because my mom was there.
[Stephanie’s story will continue in Part 2. Things are going to get much worse for her before they get better]