A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

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.

34 Comments

  1. H

    Shouldn’t this school be named? It’s incredible that so many seriously disturbed people would be attracted to one extremely small school. I’ve never heard of so many weird sexual perversions in one place even among totally secular people. I went to a much larger non-Christian college and stayed for years in dorms with non-Christians. I think if a guy asked some girl to see her underwear drawer, a normal non-Christian would either burst out laughing or kick him out. What weird behavior. I’m in shock. How does that happen? I’m extremely embarrassed that people like this exist who call themselves Christians. No wonder typical Americans have a hard time being attracted to the message of Christianity!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yes H, it should be named but we didn’t because we wanted to protect the anonymity of the one telling the story.

      • NutMeg

        This was my guest post and I think I would like to post the name of the school. I have absolutely no contact with these people anymore and they have lost all interest in me. Even if they do get mad there is absolutely nothing they can do to me. I think the name is important because people need to stay away.

        The school is NOW called Johnson University Florida but before it was Florida Christian College. Johnson University bought it out in 2013 because they were in a LOT of debt (that they never told us about) that they couldn’t pay off. So one day we were told that our school didn’t exist anymore and that we had “merged” but later on we discovered it was a “buyout or close forever” deal. I don’t know how the Tennessee campus conducts itself so I can’t judge that one. But FCC/JUFL was a mess even after it got bought out. So stay away.

      • The woman who wrote this post has now shared the name of the college. See Nutmeg’s comment in this thread.

      • healinginhim

        NutMeg -Thank you for bravely breaking the silence and now posting the school’s name and updating on the history of the name change.
        You are so mature and already God is using you to help and encourage others to speak out. It’s not easy, though. I’m feeling so beat up as I am surrounded by those who don’t appreciate me as a woman for speaking out against ‘the church’ and warning against Christian colleges who are not honoring Christ’s Name.

        God bless you and your husband as you move forward.

  2. Song of Joy

    Thank you for sharing your story. I rejoice for you…that despite all of the obstacles thrown your way, and despite the disordered thinking and behavior of your dad, some teachers and peers, you were successful in earning your degree and able to move forward by living your life in a better way. In the process you have gained incredible insight and a meaningful relationship with a husband who cares about you. May the Lord bless you as you continue to pursue your dreams.

  3. This is so disheartening. If a Christian school doesn’t promote Biblical truth in how they operate and allows women to be abused and threatened they don’t deserve the designation of Christian. And we need to train our daughters to recognize abuse and stand up for themselves.

  4. MaxGrace

    Thank you for sharing your life experience. What a wonderful insight you have for 24 years old. Your story can help so many people, because you respond honestly and insightfully. Many people who are abused for years haven’t been able to see this clearly. What a testimony that despite the evil you have seen done by so called “Christian’s”, you have been able to discern true from false. I think that is amazing.

  5. TJM

    As a parent with high school kids, I’m freaking out! As a teen, I went to an ultra conservative church where people behaved like this. I walked away from church and God. But thankfully I found other churches that were sound and loving as an adult. I wish there way a way to find out the name of this school as my kids are looking towards college – it would be a nightmare if they or their friends ended up in a school like this! And I’m sure it’s hard to see on the surface as this is all masked and hidden as you first look at the school. Scary. This type of behavior makes me ill.

    • Hi and welcome to the blog 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      I changed your screen name to TJM as a precaution. If you want us to change it to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

  6. I love how this girl did not comply with abusive people and encourages others to trust themselves (and the voice of the Holy Spirit within them) instead of being swayed by ridiculous and abusive people. Thanks for sharing this story, every girl on the way to college or university needs to read this. At this age I was vulnerable and impressionable and not adequately taught or equipped to respond to the variety of people I met and would have benefitted greatly from this kind of teaching. I like that she chose her husband inspite of others not liking him or thinking she should be with him. It sound like she chose well and is not married to an abusive man like her dad.

  7. Grieved that this precious girl had to endure such evil under the guise of Christianity and as a previous commenter noted; “No wonder typical Americans have a hard time being attracted to the message of Christianity!” — yes, I’m hearing that as of this morning when a so-called mutual friend gave me the “there are two sides to every story” and then added that “All your troubles started when Christianity entered our marriage. He claims he only professed to be a Christian in order to keep the family together… that now that he doesn’t profess Christ, he seems much happier, the guy they used to know many years ago.”

    What a brave gal to take the time to document ‘the truth’ and warn others.
    So many of us have been ‘silenced’ … ACFJ and a few select others are lovingly offering a place to finally be heard.

  8. Kay

    Unfortunately, many small Christian schools accept people that they shouldn’t in order to pay expenses for the school. Apparently, they didn’t have a clear biblical vision either of what they wanted for their students, so their students were subjected to all kinds of weird stuff from both professors and students.

    I taught in Christian schools for many years. Indoctrinating kids is wrong. Instead of telling them what to think, they should be taught to think and reason from the Bible themselves. They should be exposed to other ideas as well. The goal should be to show them the wonderful freedom we have in Christ Jesus. Instead, Christian schools can become cult-like with a legalistic focus on particular behaviors, and usually those behaviors are directed at women.

    We had a girl come to school one day with a skirt that was slightly shorter than what the dress code called for. She had on a pair of black leggings underneath and there wasn’t anything immodest about the way she was dressed. One of the teachers got out her ruler to measure and sent her to the office to change. It was ridiculous! That kind of thing can damage the faith of a young person. This woman who wrote this article shows that she is a thinking person because she doesn’t just accept the status quo. Good for her!

    • MarkQ

      There’s more to it. I was heavily involved in a Christian college, and it bred essentially a complementarian culture between the administration and the faculty/students. So, the administration, which had essentially no qualifications chose professors who were experts in their fields, most with a Ph.D., and then proceeded to treat them like pond scum. That’s because they touted their “servant leadership”, which meant they served by lording it over those beneath them. In true Animal Farm fashion, these leaders are incensed that anyone dare question their motives when they are so sacrificial and so committed to the ministry.

      They praised the underlings for being quiet and never asking to be treated well, and they fired those who didn’t play the game. When it came to the faculty, teaching was a “ministry”, meaning low wages and sacrificial workloads, but when it came to the administration, “ministry” meant they could spend money on whatever their heart desired, like administrative off-sites at posh resorts, hiring cronies to put in executive positions with lots of authority and little accountability.

  9. kim

    This was very hard for me to read, but I am so proud of this young woman for sharing. I wish her and her husband a blessed life and marriage. Every time someone shows this young woman’s level of honesty and perceptiveness, the light in the world is increased. Thank you for sharing.

  10. cindy burrell

    That story is tragic on so many levels. I only wish I was surprised by what this poor young woman wrote. This seems to be becoming the norm.

    The fact that the school mixes in a small measure of truth with all of that demeaning, controlling untruth makes it the worst kind.

    I appreciate that the writer had the courage to share her appalling experience – that she could see the truth about her situation, those people and the God who loves her. It’s pretty amazing that she could still see the truth against almost impossible odds. God bless her!

  11. Eve

    Wow! Thank you for sharing your story! It reminded me of the dynamics of some small churches ive seen…not to mention some marriages (christian or not) I love how you said trust your gut — this is The Holy Spirit’s way of letting us know something is not right….even if we can’t pinpoint it or prove it at the time…The Lord bless you and your family.Please continue to tell your powerful and liberating story.

  12. Valued by God

    Thank you so much for this! I am posting it and passing it on in hopes of making unsuspecting others aware.

  13. Annie

    Thank you for this post. You are one brave young lady. It is my prayer those who are in these types of situations or relationships would not get crushed in spirit. I commend you for taking the time to write. Thank you for sharing the name. Once again, you are brave.
    Blessings to you.

  14. Pomander

    Oh, dear; this is awful. I wish I could say I am surprised, but this is the sort of thing that I’ve been exposed to since I was sent to “Christian” schools, starting at grade K.

    In high school, there was a very aggressive guy whose father was the janitor. The two of them would sometimes get into physical altercations, and they even ended up putting a hole in the wall. This guy was a menace, to the point where I was concerned for my safety, as well as the safety of other students. He accused one of the other guys of being gay, and that this other guy therefore deserved to be gruesomely murdered and lynched somewhere within the school. He said he was actually thinking about doing it. Nothing was ever done about him, until he fathered a child with one of the female students. I remember hearing that she was basically forced into living with this guy and his family, and she was abused by them (it struck me recently that he may have even forced himself on her from the beginning, yet she was held to be as much at fault as him, and also expelled).

    I, myself, have PTSD from what was done to me in these places (as well as by family, and then being raped when I was a teenager; … due to the circumstances, I blamed myself for years, as that was how I was taught this sort of situation worked). I was even pushed down the stairs. The other kids would beat me up, and the teacher would just watch, eyes locked on mine, with this really bitter and hateful look on her face. I’m diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but my family didn’t know this then. The teachers just told my parents that “something was wrong with me,” and they were annoyed that I required extra attention.

    Due to all of this, I swore off Christianity, as almost all of my experiences with it had been abusive and extremely negative. I ended up in very dark places, having done things I deeply regret. Having returned to the loving arms of my Savior, I know — from an intellectual standpoint — that He forgives me for what I’ve done. However, since I was taught that some of these things bring judgment and hatred from the LORD, I cannot stop myself from thinking that this is the case. I still struggle with the PTSD and related psychiatric disorders. I’m unsure if -I’m- the abusive person in my relationships, so I’m afraid to get married. On Christian Mingle, there are those who think never having been married by a certain point means that the individual is creepy or worthy of mockery. I couldn’t even enter another school for years, even colleges, and I wasn’t able to bring myself to go until my twenties (despite my high academic acumen and achievements). To this day, I’ve been unable to complete college.

    I don’t mean to make this all about me, and I hope it doesn’t come off that way. I think it’s amazing that you (OP) were able to accomplish all that you have, in the face of such vileness and injustice. I just want you to know that you aren’t alone in having experienced such horrors at so-called “Christian” schools. My situation may not be the exact same as yours, but it I can definitely relate to it. In my experience, this sort of hypocrisy and nastiness is an epidemic, and it’s been that way for some time. I hope that we can shine a light on this sort of thing, to bring about positive change in the Christian circles that so desperately need it, if only for the next (and forthcoming) generation(s).

    • Dear Pomander, thank you so much for your comment! And welcome to the blog 🙂

      I am so sorry that you were abused in all those ways. What a lot of stuff you’ve had to deal with! And the way you articulate it is excellent. I didn’t hear your comment as being ‘all about you’ in any selfish way. You’ve been through heaps, and your testimony is important! The church needs to listen to people like you. You have a wealth of experience to share.

      I hope you keep commenting on the blog. And I love your screen name Pomander. 🙂

      You might like to read these posts:

      My abuser says I am the abuser!

      Prayerfully Hand Shame Back to the Abuser

      AM I THE ABUSIVE ONE?

      PS We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      • Pomander

        Hello, Barbara. Thank you so much for the warm welcome and kind words. I never know what to expect online, so I tend to only read sites without commenting. I’ve been hurt and abused so many times on the ‘net, often for seemingly innocuous things or differing opinions, so anxiety creeps in no matter where I may be. I felt like the Holy Spirit really led me to comment, however; it’s like I was told that it was important, somehow. Receiving such a kind welcome really helps to put my mind at ease.

        Thank you for the praise regarding my writing. I actually felt like it was more disjointed and rambly than usual, since it’s such an emotional and difficult topic. My area of expertise is in writing, so I’m always my harshest critic. For a while, I’ve had the idea of writing more formally about my experiences, but I really don’t know where to start or what kind of opposition and attacks I might face for it. I’m used to general nastiness, or at least familiar enough that I always expect it, but publishing a book could really paint a target on my back (even if use a pseudonym, some people will still spread horrible rumors, I’m sure). I know that I should simply trust the LORD to protect me (Psalm 34), but it’s always easier said than done.

        Also, thank you for the links to those articles! I will definitely give them a read. One of the most confusing parts of all this is being able to tell when something may actually be my fault. Having been exposed to some form of abuse since as early as I can remember, I fear that it may have turned me into an abuser, at least sometimes. There’s only so much I can take before I blow my fuse, and there are certain people I always end up in arguments with, some of which (the arguments) can become quite vicious. I’m not sure how much of the blame lies with me. I know I should turn the other cheek, as is said, but I’m human. My first instinct is to protect myself. I just hope I’m not being too quixotic in doing so.

        I’m glad that you like the name! There’s a colonial Christmas festival held around here every year, and one of the things displayed and taught is the making of a traditional pomander. It also has “pom” in it, and I like pomeranians. It’s a win-win! 🙂

        Thank you again for being so welcoming and kind. It means so much.

        (I used a different device to post this, so it’s possible that a different icon–gravicon, or something?–will be displayed. I just wanted to warn you in advance, in case it seems suspicious.)

      • Having been exposed to some form of abuse since as early as I can remember, I fear that it may have turned me into an abuser, at least sometimes. There’s only so much I can take before I blow my fuse, and there are certain people I always end up in arguments with, some of which (the arguments) can become quite vicious. I’m not sure how much of the blame lies with me. I know I should turn the other cheek, as is said, but I’m human. My first instinct is to protect myself. I just hope I’m not being too quixotic in doing so.

        You might also find it helpful to read the PDF Honouring Resistance. Here is our post about it:
        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/08/12/honouring-resistance-a-wonderful-resource-for-understanding-abuse/

        And here’s another that may be helpful:
        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/05/30/defining-domestic-abuse-by-a-list-of-behaviors-is-never-going-to-capture-it/

    • Lea

      Hi pomander!

      I too went to a Christian school through middle school. My last year there, I had an experience that I guess would now be considered bullying? Nothing was done though teachers knew. The icing on the cake was when he won the Christian conduct award for the year after which I said so long to Christian for the rest of my life. Public school was a joy by comparison.

      • Lea

        Sorry, to Christian ‘schools’ that is!

      • Pomander

        Yeah, that sounds familiar. It seemed like the kids were often rewarded for un-Christian behavior, while being told that it was Christian behavior. And, the schools seemed really slow to institute the same protective policies as public schools, as if those things were somehow bad or wrong. Whenever I’d request help that was guaranteed under law, they’d act annoyed and like it was a huge inconvenience. Then there was the high school counselor, who told me that exercise would fix all of my mental health issues, and it was my fault if I wasn’t able to overcome them. I could probably go on for a while about the things that went on, but I’m sure eveyone gets the idea.

  15. NutMeg

    Another thing I just want to mention is that the school was completmentarian which they claimed was the moderate, nice middle ground between radical feminism and all out patriarchy but what they taught was dangerously close to John Piper and Demoss. The most annoying part was that they would give us material to read from people who believed in a patriarchy (women are not allowed to work outside of the home, women must decorate their homes even if they lack money because it shows respect to God etc) and they wouldn’t talk about it in class. We just moved on with our lessons and never really confronted the issue of “Well is this what you actually believe?”. So it was annoying. They did claim that Egalitarians were most likely not real Christians and needed to be avoided at all costs.

    “Ultimate Truth” was a term used all the time at the school. Differences in personal tastes were left up to really small things like food. People even got mad and assumed I didn’t like to take responsibility because I was a cat person. I’m being serious.

    We were not suppose to judge who was really a Christian or not because we are all sinners. But they would talk about how there were a lot of people who left the school and have “fallen away” from the faith after graduating. And their main example was the people who got divorced. They even mentioned a few times about how they do not want to see the post-graduation divorce rates because it would be disheartening. But they never stopped to think that basically forcing young adults into marriage was somehow going to collapse after they left the school. They never even considered that maybe it was something that they were doing as a school. They always said that getting married young was normal in all of human history and that because of our modern/independent/feminist culture we started to get away from that. And they looked down upon people who were older and single.They acted like they were children who were trying to avoid normal responsibilities. They acted like single people got everything they wanted and only thought of themselves. Which is obviously not true but they didn’t listen to anything else. Or they would just feel bad for them.

    I never realized just how sexually perverted the campus was. My husband went to a devotional group and came back horrified. He told me that the lesson was about how to be a man. And that the men there ALL admitted that they could NOT be alone in a car with a women without wanting to get her in bed. And he was mad because it was accepted as normal and that if a man gave a woman a ride it was to ‘get her’ and not because he was being a gentleman. And he got mad because he had never heard anything like that before. It objectified the women and made it seem like it was just “how men are”. So they were never expected to be anything else because they couldn’t be anything but what they were. And they were just wired to want a woman. So weird. Once the RAs told us that we needed to be thankful because in a secular college the people were much more perverted. But once I spent that semester at the community college I realized that wasn’t true at all.

    One more warning. The people at these kinds of places are masters at turning things around on you. If you leave they will try to use it as a warning for other students to not “abandon” them. They assume that they know the intentions of your heart and that your intentions are always evil. They are really good at twisted scripture to make it seem like they are right and you are wrong. They will have no issue with making an example out of you. And they made it almost impossible for you to talk about anything without being labeled as a gossip. Also, the few times I did try to talk to them about something they always gossiped about it and it got around the entire campus until I had people I didn’t even know asking me about my problems. They accuse their students of gossip and they are the gossips. It was their belief that you could get along with anyone if you just tried hard enough. So if you go to them with roommate issues or make your intentions to leave known they will make you feel guilty. Which is why I stayed until graduation. I didn’t realize they were wrong until I left and saw how much they lied to me. By then I was already a senior and decided to graduate instead of figuring out how a transfer would work. So I hope this will help other people to realize they are being abused sooner so they can transfer or just avoid a school like this entirely.

    Making you doubt yourself goes deep. I had a class I wont name. And we had to discover how we handled confrontation and difficult situations. I somehow got the profile of a murderer. Which meant that when I get angry and in a fight I have the potential to murder someone because I become aggressive. When I went to my professor all he said was that no one likes their results because people don’t like hearing the difficult truth and that when I get stressed I become aggressive and I need to watch myself. I was TERRIFIED of myself for WEEKS until I finally showed the profile to my sister and my family and they laughed! They told me that I am absolutely NOTHING like what the profile claimed I was and I had nothing to worry about. But again – TERRIFIED OF MYSELF FOR WEEKS. Not trusting my OWN emotions and I was wondering if one day I was going to snap. Because of a personality test. So it made me give over MORE control to the school because I then believed I was a crazy psychopath who could snap at any moment! I couldn’t handle myself and needed the school to keep me in check. Its crazy how much it spirals out of control until they have all authority over you.

    There were some warning signs when I first applied to the school. I ignored them because I just wanted -out- of my parents house. Firstly, the school was seriously small. And it had a high transfer rate and a low graduation rate. And they would do anything to get you to go there. Every time I said something like “Maybe if I get accepted” it was always “Oh YOU WILL BE!!!!” But they never did anything on time. They were so disorganized. I had turned in my paperwork and was waiting for it to be processed and they never called me back when they said they would. And I would be out running errands and they would -finally- call me back a week late and I would have to drop whatever I was doing to answer questions or to resubmit paperwork they had lost. Those are bad signs. Their excuses were lame and at the time I felt bad for doubting a christian school based on “shallow” things such as organization. But those things matter and mean a lot.

    ALSO someone has told me that they left a semi-negative review of the school on their facebook page and it was deleted. So if you find a school with ONLY good reviews beware! No school gets 100% positive reviews unless they are deleting the ones they don’t like.

    So those are just some of the warning signs of a bad school. I hope this helps!

    • NutMeg, Thank you, again for sharing ‘more’. I’ve seen this same mindset in churches and unfortunately my adult children now blame me for certain aspects of their childhood years. The man I married who now makes no profession of faith has told others that he felt he needed to keep the Christian appearance in order to keep the family together. This is a lie.

      I confronted one child by stating, “Did you ever think that I have also been a victim? A victim of spousal abuse but also of spiritual abuse to which your dad added fuel to the fire?” I was met with a blank stare and no reply.

      The type of school and church which you describe, Nutmeg doles out much control and I was controlled; confronted by leadership on many issues – it brought much confusion into my life as a newly saved woman and all I knew is that I “should not forsake the assembling together” for any reason — The man I married did not confront leadership and the odd time he made any questionable remark to them, he has now stated that I forced him to make the confrontations. 😦

    • Pomander

      They really seem to be scraping the bottom of the barrel with their “professors.” It’s a crime against academia, and it makes me wonder if they were all educated solely by the same school and/or wouldn’t be given a second look by anywhere else. Some of the things you mention could be grounds for a lawsuit, due to the extent they went to in psychologically abusing the students. Were any of the professors decent human beings?

      After what I went through in K-12, I couldn’t handle the idea of going to a Christian college. I went to check out one nearby, and the receptionist ended up being one of my extremely abusive teachers from gradeschool. After that, I refused to go there, so a few more years went by before I was able to stomach the local community college. Like you, I was surprised with how reasonable everyone was. It hasn’t been perfect, and there’s the occasional trouble-maker or bad professor, but, 95% of the time, things have been fine. If anything scary happened, I’d just withdraw. I’d rather lose money to face more abuse or unnecessary stress (perhaps a fault of mine for being too easy to turn-tail, but it’s a survival mechanism that I can’t shake myself of).

      I’ve been thinking of transferring to that aforementioned Christian college (now a rebranded university, which boasts a more relaxed environment now), but your story scares the absolute crap out of me. While I want to study the Word, and not always be told how wrong or bad Christians are, I’m concerned about ending up in the exact opposite situation, only ten times worse.

      I’m really going to have to rethink things. . .

      • NutMeg

        The professors were really nice. They would take people out to lunch and listen to you. See this is why it was so confusing! They made time for us and would talk to us. But then stuff I mentioned before would happen.

        If you want to go to a 4 year school you could always transfer to your state school. You could find other Christians in the school you are already at and do a Bible study with them. I think my advice for anyone is just to avoid Christian schools (sadly). Especially if one of the people who use to abuse you was a receptionist! Also my college was rebranded and is owned by different people but it didn’t stop the craziness. And most of the same people still work there. So I wouldn’t trust the rebranding. Especially if they feel they have to advertise “we are calm and relaxed now!! We promise!” It just seems sketchy to me.

  16. Renewed Spirit

    So why are many Christian(s) ‘groups’ so dysfunctional? Are we lacking emotional intelligence and/or healthy understanding of sexuality?

    • Pomander

      I have an idea of why that may be, or at least part of the reason. Granted, it may not be a popular opinion, but it’s just my own thought:

      Having been raised in an Evangelical household, there was much that I wasn’t taught about sexuality. In school, I was taught nothing. There is this wrongheaded notion among a lot of conservative Christians that talking about sexuality, AT ALL, is wrong; that it will somehow turn children into deviants. I personally believe the opposite. Hiding these things from them only means that they will learn about it elsewhere, likely from very terrible sources (e.g. their peers, the Internet, the Bachelor, etc.). Without a proper tether to the real world, and real people, they will not know the difference between their own fantasies/desires and the real world. And, being taught–or simply led to believe–that sexuality must be suppressed, they are bound to eventually lose control of themselves. I think we’ve all had at least one experience in which trying to hold something back only ended with failure (e.g. a strict diet, or simply hiding one’s emotions).

      If more Christian parents would take the time to properly educate their children about sexuality, about how it’s normal–yet a sacred and special vehicle of love–and about the consequences of their actions, as well as how to properly respect other people, then I think there would be fewer incidents like this. Sadly, too many parents seem to be burying their heads in the sand, thinking that avoiding the topic will somehow have positive results. I think we can say, by this point, that this method has totally and utterly failed.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Pomander – Naivete and ignorance are, as you say, part of the picture. But in addition there is the active teaching of a patriarchal culture in which women are inferior to men, objects to be used for men’s pleasure and procreation, daughters exist to serve the “divine calling” mission of their father, and sex crimes are ultimately the fault of women seducing men. In other words, we have to weed out the weeds – the wicked ones who live and teach this evil. Too many times they are in positions of power and control in churches, Christian schools, and families.

  17. Pomander

    Jeff: I completely agree with what you have said. It’s offensive to me that there are parents who actually teach such things. While my upbringing was conservative, I am thankful that my parents taught respect and love for others. I didn’t grow up with toxic patriarchal beliefs being held in high regard. Sadly, I did encounter some of it in school, and I know there are insidious aspects of it that imbed themselves in all of our minds. Change starts with the self, from within, so it is the responsibility of each of us to check our thoughts and be sure that they square properly with the kind of love, acceptance, and equality which Christ stands for.

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