A True Account of How a Christian College is an Abuser Factory
The following account is a real story from one of our readers. We considered publishing it in two parts but decided it is best to keep it together for full impact. As you read, consider that a college like this is actually turning out young men who will in some cases pastor a church, and women who have been brainwashed, all “in the name of Christ” of course, into serving them. Many, many thanks to this young lady for sharing her story. And by the way, this college is not Bob Jones University, but still another place where abuse is covered up as you will see, even enabled and promoted in many ways.
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I am 24 years old and I recently graduated from a small conservative Christian college. I came from a very strict Christian background and my parents were abusive. My dad more than my mom. My mom and I were both victims but my mom decided at some point to enable my dad’s bad behavior. I was homeschooled from pre-k to my senior year of high school except for a year I spent in private school.
My dad made it clear he didn’t want me to go to college. He believed that debt was a sin and that college was just a scam in order for schools to make money. He said he knew a lot of kids who couldn’t get a job with their expensive degrees after college and was trying to “protect” me from the system. I was told I was going to live with them forever. Obviously, I couldn’t imagine a life living with my parents until they died and I was then forced to find a way to care for myself as a middle aged women who never had her own job or a degree.
Because my dad put so many limitations on what college I would be allowed to apply to, I was starting to believe it was hopeless. He wouldn’t allow me to go to a college that had a meal plan because he believed that college food was overpriced and would make me gain weight. He also wanted me to find a school with an unreasonably low tuition. I believe he did this knowing that no such school existed — until we found that one. It was a very small college, only 150 students or so, and it didn’t have a meal plan. You had your own apartment where you would live with three other people and cook your own meals. It was a very conservative Christian college that boasted about being theologically correct. I went there in fall and I started to get a bad feeling right away.
The boys treated girls like they were fresh meat
The first thing I noticed is that when I got on campus the boys there literally treated me like I was fresh meat. When I would leave my apartment boys would whistle at me from across the courtyard and then wave at me. When I made it clear I didn’t like it (usually by looking down and walking in the opposite direction) they would act disappointed and then annoyed. Whenever I would tell my roommates that it bothered me they would get mad at me and explain that if I was going to be so skinny I had to get use to being treated that way.
Most conversations in my room became about my body very quickly. Men would make “random” comments about how “women shouldn’t bother to wear makeup because it made them shallow” when they saw me wearing eyeshadow. One day a girl invited a guy she liked into our room. She took him to her bedroom and, for whatever reason, showed him her underwear drawer. He told me that he wanted to see mine. When I refused he told me that I was just a boring introvert. (He recently married one of my friends and he still calls me the boring introvert to this day.)
There was an general apathy on that campus when it came to how women were being treated. The general indifference didn’t stop in our dorm rooms. It was also shown in class.
They took a hard line on divorce, and shamed those who asked questions
One day our professor was talking about the biblical reasons for divorce. He mentioned two reasons: sexual immorality, which was chalked up to physical cheating; and abandonment by a non-Christian spouse, making it clear that the non-Christian spouse had to be the one who decided to leave. He spoke about how those were the only two ways out of the marriage other than death.
After class was over and all the other students left but one, I asked him about abuse. My mom was in an abusive relationship with my father and I always secretly wanted her to leave. It was something I felt considerable guilt about because of my Christian upbringing. The other student who had remained was at the front of the classroom with my professor, doodling on the whiteboard. I figured he wasn’t going to leave and made the mistake of asking in front of him. As soon as the question about abuse left my mouth the professor turned to the other student and said, “See? This is why I asked you to stay after class. I always get one of these people in every class at the beginning of the semester. There is always one person who asks this every year and this time its this girl.” I was mortified. He then turned back to me and explained that he didn’t know about abuse. That some people made up stories about how they were being abused and that if confronted with a situation of abuse it would be something the elders would have to look into to make sure it was first real, and then to determine how serious the abuse really was. He said then they would have to decide on the best course of action only after the household was inspected by the elders. I was dismissed after that. I was completely humiliated and didn’t share that experience with even my own husband until a few days ago. I never wanted to be “that girl” ever again.
Some time later, that professor again talked about divorce and relationships in his class. Apparently he didn’t think we got it the first time. I don’t remember the context of this personal story but I remember the story because I found it frightening. There was a women who wanted to leave her husband. And her husband called our professor and asked him to come over and “minister” to his wife so she would change her mind. When our professor got there he found out that she was going to leave anyway and that the husband was going to allow it. He became angry that this man would be so “apathetic” and allow his wife to leave him. He complained that he was just letting her walk out on him without even fighting for her. “Real men fight for their wives”. Now, I never asked what he meant by “fighting for her”… I still don’t know what he meant because he didn’t elaborate. But I got scared and wondered if he would object to holding someone against their will. I don’t want to believe anything bad of him but I was too scared to ask since I got chewed up the first time I asked him a question. No one else asked and the class moved on to another topic. I know that he didn’t actually say that violence was okay but he didn’t not say it either, and that’s always bothered me.
The modesty police
The first night on campus we had to have a meeting with our Room Attendants. (Room Attendants made sure the room was clean and that we were respecting the nightly curfew.) The first conversation was on modesty and how we weren’t allowed to wear bikinis or other revealing clothes because it would make our brothers-in-Christ stumble. I had already heard this speech before since I grew up in the church and so I’ll admit I just rolled my eyes and tuned them out.
Later on a girl was enrolling for the next semester. One of the women who worked in admissions noticed that her shorts were “unusually short” and made a whole Facebook rant about how women shouldn’t dress like that because it sends the wrong message to men and how “There is nothing attractive about a desperate buttcheek girl.” Everyone on campus “liked” it and shared it. The message was clear: step out of line, even if you don’t officially attend school yet, and you’re an automatic target for ridicule.
Keeping up appearances went past just modest clothing.The handbook said that even if you had an “offensive haircut” the dean could demand you change it. Women were encourage to have longer hair (although one girl who attends there now has a short pixie cut and no one bothers her). I’ve always wondered if that rule was just there so they could have the power to make you change your hair if they wanted.
We were made to feel bad about the way we dressed and for making men “stumble”. In truth those men saw us only as sex objects. They had been addicted to pornography from a young age and the church environment did nothing to address it other than to install programs that blocked pornographic websites, which is a good first step. But they didn’t seem to address what the porn already taught men. I believe that any guy in IT could have gotten through the barriers if he tried hard enough. We could have dressed in long johns and parkas every single day and those men would still have impure thoughts about us. That’s what porn had taught them. Modest clothing wasn’t going to fix it.
The gossip mill… and pressure to get married
When you did get into a relationship it wasn’t your own. Everyone knew about it because they all gossiped. If you told your roommates they would tell their friends and then it would get to the admissions office, the biggest gossips of all, and everyone would know. When I first started dating my now-husband one woman on campus wanted me to do weekly devotionals with her and to keep her updated on my relationship. It seemed weird from the start so I found a way out of it.
I felt the pressure of marriage from the beginning. Once I made the mistake of telling a professor I didn’t think I wanted to get married right away. He told me that a lot of people decide not to get married and that God uses them in different ways. Perhaps I was destined to be a martyr and just didn’t know it? He even offered to give me a video about a girl who decided not to get married, ran away to Israel to fight against Palestine where she heroically but tragically died as an example..I politely declined watching the video and left. I was 19. And all I said was that I wasn’t sure about getting married at that point in my life! Not that I NEVER wanted to get married. I then believed that the message was “get married ASAP or NOT EVER”.
I was lucky enough to be in a healthy relationship with my now-husband. He was getting bullied for not being “man enough” — i.e., he didn’t have a truck and wear cowboy boots. (The men gossiped worse than the girls but of course, no one noticed.) Even though I was lucky to be with a man who respected me not all of my friends were.
Men stalking women
My best friend was stalked, twice, by different men she rejected. One man had the nerve to tell her that he was told by God that she would marry him. She was a Calvinist and believed heavily in God choosing your spouse so she seemed to believe him. Just a little after when he made it clear how obsessed with her he was she decided to break it off. They were never officially dating but he would come to our room and demand to see her. Once we didn’t know where she was, so he got his dad to drive him around campus as he asked around for her and demanded that people tell him where she was. He was completely angry when she got back and told him she was at a party with other students..He told her that she wasn’t allowed to go to a party without him knowing. That’s when she broke it off. He kept on sending her nasty Facebook messages about how she was “prideful” to reject not only him but “God’s clear plan for her life.” His mom was even mad at her for not dating her son. My friend had to switch churches and block him on Facebook. Mercifully, he didn’t live on campus but he always seemed to find a way back to our room or one of us would just find him in odd spots waiting for her.
A year later in our Sophomore year she had attracted one of the older men. She was 21 and he was in his late 30’s. He went to the school on their second-chance program for older students. He said that she was more godly than most women her age and decided he wanted to court her. She went out on ONE date with him. When she got back from her date she told me that he said that she was the one God has made him wait for and that his mission was to run away to Israel to minister to God’s people and that he was excited for her to join him. (The people in this place had a bit of an obsession with Israel.) Apparently, he came to the school to find the women that God promised him. And it was her lucky day because she was it! We were so freaked out.
One day I got stuck pulling weeds out of the school’s front lawn with him (I didn’t do all of my Christian service hours and if I wanted to advance into my Junior year of college I had to make them up, which meant the school got free-labor) and he told me that he was upset that my friend was ignoring her call from God to join him in Israel! He would follow her around and she would find him in weird places like he was waiting for her. Her friends had to escort her to class. He was almost in his 40’s and no one ever stopped to think it strange that an almost 40-year-old-man wanted to court and bring a 21 year old women to Israel with him. We never told the school what was going on and eventually he lost interest in her.
The college didn’t warn us about bad people
I think I roomed with a sociopath of some sort. In addition to rooming with my best friend I roomed with three girls. One girl, who I will call Kate, liked to manipulate people. She liked causing chaos in the room and only wanted to get her way. Kate would tell me that my best friend was no longer my best friend anymore. That she was way better than me as a best friend and that I needed to find new friends. Kate would tell me that no one loved my now-husband and that he was a loser. And she explained that everyone only saw me as the pathetic toothpick-sized woman who needed her boyfriend for everything. She did this in such a passive, covert way no one noticed. And she was one of the most popular girls in school. She hated me.
They didn’t want to recognize people like Kate, who say one thing and do another. Or that people may have not-so-Christian motives for wanting to attend the school. We weren’t suppose to doubt our brothers and sisters in Christ. The school also never talked about singleness. It just wasn’t an option.
One day Kate was honest with me. We were alone in our room and she told me that she knew she was one of the smartest and most confident girls on campus. She said that she was so good at getting into people’s heads that if she wanted to she could convince someone to commit suicide. That was the last time she was ever honest with me again. She enjoyed that honesty because I knew her secret and couldn’t tell anyone because no one would believe me. Then she got lice and convinced everyone that I was the one who gave it to her. People wanted to avoid all of us and our room was almost banned from going to class. She got angry that her trick backfired on her. She was in the ‘counseling’ program..Lord have mercy on her patients. I don’t believe she actually finished the program. The last I heard she said the Lord had told her to become a mother and wife. She got married the next year, dropped out of school and has her first child. I saw her a few months ago. Now when she acts nice I don’t get the same warning in my gut like I use to. But I still decided it was best to cut off contact with her. I hope she changes..I believe that her husband has helped her because she started acting differently after her marriage. But again, I don’t know.
The school wasn’t all bad, which made it more confusing
There was a guy who asked a 15 year old girl for naked pictures of herself. The girl’s parents told the school and the school kicked him out. People on campus thought the school was being legalistic about it but they explained that they would not allow someone who was attracted to minors to be in their youth ministry program. Later he was arrested for rape but the parents refused to press charges. I don’t know all the details but it seemed like he was “dating” a girl from a very poor family and he was giving them food and giving the girl rides to school when the family couldn’t. It was creepy. We don’t have any contact with him either.
There was another boy who got kicked out because he was crazy. After our volleyball team won a big game he found one of the players and kissed her on the mouth in front of everyone. He was gone by the end of the week. The school said they wouldn’t tolerate such disrespect of women and that we were allowed to defend ourselves if we felt we needed to.
My point is that the school had no right to treat me and the other girls this way. Yes they did kick out two boys who acted up. And they tried to “teach men how to have respect” but honestly there was more bad than good.
I don’t ever want another girl to go through what I went through
I don’t hate the school but I don’t ever want another girl to go through what I went through. Please, trust yourself. If you asked me two years ago what was wrong with my school I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. I just felt like something was “off” but it was such a “christian” environment with other Christians I didn’t want to think about it.
I ended up taking some classes at a community college and they discussed title nine with the students before we were even allowed to go to class. (Title nine is about rape on college campuses.) They explained that it doesn’t matter if you are drunk or wearing something revealing no one ever has the right to rape or molest you. I had never heard that before.
When I got married my husband and I moved off campus and I started to delete my “friends” on Facebook when the Josh Dugger controversy exploded. The school didn’t take an official stance on it but most of my friends were defending him. “Liberals are the real problem not Christians. Liberals are the ones who are the real hypocrites. Of course we have problems — nobody’s perfect but one bad act cannot erase all the good things he did” Honestly, I think it was because he was a christian celebrity with his own TV show. They adored him and couldn’t allow someone they looked up to so much to have any flaws. I found it ridiculous.
Please trust your gut, even if they don’t want you to
Most of them think I’m antisocial. I went back for graduation and they didn’t even try to hide how much they hate me and find my husband to be a loser. I ignored them. You have to, even if they complain about you not acting christian enough. You have the Holy Spirit too and they don’t get to make the final judgement on your soul because you won’t go along with their abuse quietly like everyone else.
I believed at the time that leaving the school for a secular state university would be abandoning my brothers and sisters in Christ. I felt incredible guilt for not getting along with everyone. For not being trusting enough. I second guessed myself. I started to think things like: Maybe Kate is really nice and I was the mean one. Maybe I did give her lice (even though I knew I didn’t). Maybe I was the problem. Or “If I had more faith in God I wouldn’t feel this way.”
These are lies. Please trust your gut even if they don’t want you to. You are all much more valuable than you know. And the labels the christian school wants to give you are not true. If anything like this has happened to you or if you notice a campus environment of general indifference or outright apathy towards women (or anyone really) please seriously consider transferring. Most non-Christian campuses have Christian Crusade for Christ (CREW) and other groups for Christians. Leaving a “christian” college doesn’t mean you are leaving God.
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