I am a 66 year-old college Sophomore, because I wrote about my life and won a scholarship…it took me 6 years to go from Freshman to Sophomore.
This letter is lengthy, but I hope you will read it in its entirety, because it encompasses 36 years of abuse and a journey of, overcoming, thriving and unbelievable (others say) resilience, grace and courage under “fire.”
I was married to a physically (lesser extent) and verbally abusive “man” for 31 years and naively went to speak with the pastor (of disaster); I ended up educating him, although it was to no avail. I found the courage to get a divorce and then fought the spiritual abuse for 18 months to try and stop the pastor from “counseling” any more women, because two of the women were suicidal (because of his “counseling” skills).
In the end, my name was put up on a big screen in front of the congregation (3 times and on my birthday, no less), followed by the words, “Conduct Unbecoming a Child of God.” Called to a meeting (16 “men”), not allowed to have a woman with me, and asked “Are you still having sex with your ex?!” The abuser was never called to a meeting.
I stood in front of the congregation (they did this to me on my birthday, no less….8 years ago on September 29th) and said, ‘Wow, I didn’t think this many people would show up to help me celebrate my birthday…They were grim as a heart attack; I was smiling. Their problem was that I allowed the x to live in my house after the divorce.
I was fortunate to have a therapist who was an expert in spiritual abuse, journey with me for those 18 months…he taught me the most valuable words I’d ever heard: “Restorative Justice.” This is what you did, this is how it made me feel. I have letters from Dr. Ron Enroth (which I have used in my memoir and attended a spiritual abuse conference in California). As usual in my life, something positive came out of the situation: www.churchabusepoetrytherapy.com, with over 21,000 hits.
At age 60 I won a scholarship because of what I wrote about my life and at 66, am a freshman in social work/counseling. I am the most resourceful, stubborn person I know…..I never give up (sometimes that is not a good thing).
I believe we are here to make a difference, and I have been working like a “Trojan” to do that.
One of my passions is to get the message out there regarding verbal abuse, because it is so prevalent in our society, that it goes unrecognized…..even therapists miss the dynamics.
Here are some of my accomplishments toward getting the message out there. Please feel free to share any of these links so that others can be comforted and helped that are being abused in a religious environment.
I’ve been writing to media types for close to 20 years, so that I may use my voice to help (global statistics) the 1 in 3 women who are abused…every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted.
As of the U.S. Census of 2010, there are approximately 52,321,404 women living in this nightmare/human rights violation.
I am a moderator of an abused survivors’ group and American Counseling Association and I keep submitting my paper, Society’s Hidden pandemic: Verbal Abuse, Precursor to Physical Violence and a Form of Biochemical Assault. I can not understand how they do not accept it, but I will keep trying.
I don’t think society understands that abuse affects ALL of us. The U.S. spends over 5.8 billion dollars a year as the result of violence. Abuse is the leading cause of injury….more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.
Over six million child abuse cases a reported every year.
At the end of my life, I hope that because I was here, someone’s burden was lightened.
I wrote to the producers of the OWN Network to propose a program entitled: The Silent Scream (stories of women living in fear, silence and shame) in abusive situations.
Except for 3 years in the army /Presidio of San Francisco at the height of the Vietnam war, hippies, peace, etc…..such culture shock, coming from a little town in Maine………..I have been in an abusive situation.
I didn’t meet my father until I was 33 (divorce situation), and never really thought much about not having a father; it just was…the way it was……60 years later, I wrote a book, taking the anguish of a lifetime: Sanctuary of the Soul (poems of anguish, healing, hope, comfort and celebration), and am honored and humbled at my endorsements: http://alicepoetry.webs.com/samplepoems.htm
My memoir: Ghost Child to Triumph (from a child with no voice, to someone who speaks up against injustice) is in the process of being edited.
Thank you so kindly for reading my story, and I look forward to your thoughts and would love to know what you think of my poetry, Sanctuary of the Soul
P.S. I grew up in extreme poverty:
(no phone, car, refrigerator, tub/shower) in a 120-year old tenement house with cockroaches and rats (they didn’t visit us too often; fear of my mother), in which snow came in through a crack in the wall (indoor olympics)…….molested by a drunken neighbor who broke into the apartment, after my mother had left me alone, had my hand held over an open fire by another drunken neighbor (woman).
I still cringe when I hear the nickname the tenement house had………. 50 years later. It is not a bad word, but the idea that people knew my house by a name was for me…..the final stigma/shame (worse than the abuse and poverty combined.)
Thank you for “hearing” my story!