Over the Rainbow - a site for survivors of any unwanted sexual activity
    My Story of Spiritual Abuse
Firstly I want to make it clear that this is in no way meant to be an attack on christianity or the church as a whole - I am aware that many people have positive experiences of both and if you are a Christian then I hope that you can draw on your faith to aid you in your recovery. However I am also aware that my own negative experience of the church is not unique and that when the church is not understanding of sexual abuse and rape it is capeable of causeing real hurt.

I was not brought up in the church myself but became involved with a charismatic/pentacostal church at the age of 19 when I first left home. It provided me with the family enviroment I never had as a child and I met many lovely people. After I was first raped it was the church that I naturally turnded to for help. Sadly the response I recieved was less than helpful. I felt trapped in a cycle of abuse but this was far from recognised - instead I was told that I just couldn't help myself and asked why I just coudn't admit that I enjoyed sex. Well I wasn't enjoying the 'sex' I was having one little bit and I knew only that I was a mess because of it. The whole thing was taken out of my hands with numourous people in the church being told about my mess (the churches interpratation of it) without my consent. I was forced to see my pastor and resident church counselor. When I described what had happened on the first incident the counselor recognised this as rape - my pastor's response to this was to ask me why I hadn't gone to the police and then throw me out of the worship band that I had loved singing in. He stopped speaking to me and that continues to this day which is both sad and painful for me.

I moved to London and went to Bible school there. I believed that God would heal me, but this did not happen. I was very ill at this point - not sleeping, eating properly, very depressed, having nightmares, panic attacks and flashbacks on a daily basis. Instead of sending me to see the dr which I very much needed to do, they told me that I had to just choose to be happy - I was told every day that I had to forget about it and forced on many occasions to say that I had forgiven my abuser. I felt dirty and ashamed and they made me feel worse. Eventually I left the church and sought out professional help - the relief I felt was instant. No longer did I have the pressure to be instantly better. No longer did I have to believe that what had happened to me had either been chosen by God or had been some kind of punishment for my lack of faith.

I still feel sad when I think of the way that the church responded to me. Instead of providing me with comfort as I had felt sure they would they only added to my sense of trauma and to my pain.

If you are in the church now I truly hope that they offer you the support that you deserve. However please be wary of those who try to tell you that you can be instantly healed from what happened to you. There is no shame in taking time to recover - sadly there is no miracle cure for rape. Also you do not have to take on board statements about God choosing the rape or abuse to happen to you (at one point I was even told that I should thank God for what had happened), I don't believe that a loving God would ever choose suffering for one of his children and the same goes for the punishment theory - there is nothing anyone can ever do to deserve rape or abuse.

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