Out of the Matrix ~ Part 1: The next day, a floral arrangement arrived …

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse.

by CherylAnnHannah

My journey into and out of the Quiver Full movement is so intertwined with the abuse that my children and I experienced in my marriage that it is hard for me to tell the tale of being QF without mentioning the abuse as well.

I had grown up in a Christian home, but at the age of 18 fell in love with the man who would become my husband. As is typical of a lot of teens allowed to spend too much time alone, we had sex and I ended up pregnant before my graduation from high school. My boyfriend completely freaked out and insisted on an abortion. I couldn’t go to my parents because my mother had told me when I was 16 that if I ever ended up pregnant, I knew where the door was. When I found myself pregnant, and with no job, no support from my boyfriend, and afraid to face my parents, I chose to abort my first child at 12 weeks gestation in July of 1979.

I felt somewhat numbed by the whole experience. My boyfriend showed a complete disregard towards any angst I might have felt as a result of the abortion and instead he chose to assert his authority over me and humiliated me sexually after the abortion in ways I don’t like to contemplate to this day. In fact, I felt so debauched by the whole experience that I thought no decent man would want to have anything to do with me after that. Accordingly, I went ahead and married him, against my parents’ counsel and wishes.

Three weeks into the marriage, my new husband and I got into a disagreement and he ended the argument by choking me. We had left our hometown the day after we married on a round-the-world tour by bicycle and we were in the New England states at the time. I was shocked because I had never experienced such actions in my home. The same thing happened a month and a half later when we got into another argument. I was a fast learner and I realized that if I didn’t argue with my husband, I wouldn’t get choked.

We got as far as Mexico and then came north up the west coast of the US til we were back in Canada. We stopped in Vancouver and decided to work and save money for a year or so in order to continue our bike trip in Australia. However, I got pregnant with my “atonement” baby in November of 1981 and our eldest child, a girl, was born. Thirteen months later another baby girl followed. At the time we were living on the west coast of Canada, far from my parents, family, and friends, and living in motel suites as my husband’s job had us travelling all over the place. When our eldest daughter turned 18 months old, my husband was settled in the Lower Mainland of BC and we bought a repossessed condo that was in need of a lot of clean up and repair.

It was during this time I hit rock bottom as far as my ability to cope with life. In order to go through with the abortion, I had to turn my back on my upbringing in a vain attempt to avoid the guilt it brought. But like a beach ball I was trying to hold under water, it kept popping up out of the water at unexpected times. I remember going to a local Christian bookstore and the owner saw my bedraggled and hopeless despair and invited me to a woman’s Bible study at a local Baptist church. I began to attend there and began to find some community and some solace.

My husband, despite a profession of faith in Christ, never really showed any fruit of salvation. My attempts to go out in the evening for my Bible study were impeded by him. He refused to do anything with our children that would put him out in any way so I would have to have the children fed, bathed and in bed in order to be allowed to go anywhere. Additionally, he got involved with Herbert W. Armstrong’s World Wide Church of God and became a real legalist with regard to Christmas, Easter, observing OT holy days and not eating unclean meats. I remember at one point he was following me around the house with a book quoting stuff to me out of it til I finally couldn’t take it any more and I grabbed the book and pitched it out of the nearest window. His involvement with the WWCG meant that I was attending a “synagogue of Satan” and so he had his excuse ready made as to why he could never attend church with me.

Soon after I had begun my attendance at the Baptist church, I got involved in a class on the Doctrines of Grace and was introduced to Calvinism. I had been raised in the Plymouth Brethren Assemblies and Calvinism completely turned the way I read the Bible on its head. Quite a few things that hadn’t made sense began to make a great deal of sense. I also got involved in something called Christian Reconstruction and I became a regular reader of a magazine called, “The Chalcedon Report”.

I’ve been a bookaholic since I can remember. I had been married six years, was 25 years old, and already I was on my sixth pregnancy, but third child when Mary Pride’s book, The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality, fell into my hands. With my newfound Calvinism, much of what she said about the sovereignty of God in governing our families and the womb made sense. For reasons I will never understand, my husband decided no birth control was okay and he also decided that homeschooling was the way to go with our children. In retrospect, the only time I really slowed down in terms of my activities outside of the home was when I was pregnant or nursing a baby. Homeschooling also kept me home and occupied for most of the day, so I guess it was part of the strategy to isolate and otherwise tie up a woman that abusive men use.

We were living a fairly comfortable life and I was beginning to develop something of a network through my local church when my husband decided it was time to move our family. I was five months pregnant with our fourth child at the time he announced this, and forgetting past lessons, I took exception to having to move away from all my friends and having to start all over in building a support network. He punched me out in front of my daughters who were three and four at the time. He threw me on the bed and sat on my pregnant belly and gave it to me. I had a severely split and swollen lip, a black eye, and bruises on my arms from that encounter. The next day a floral arrangement arrived on our doorstep as his way of saying sorry. My first desire was to pitch it as far and as hard as I could. But I didn’t, fearing that my lack of forgiveness would only bring more wrath and recriminations down on my head.

We finally ended up moving 500 miles north to the central interior of British Columbia a month after our fifth child was born. To my joy, my husband decided to attend church with us. I thought that this, perhaps, would be the beginnings of something good and that the promise of I Peter 3:1-3 was finally coming true. Instead it was a prelude to moving the entire family out of church altogether and into a home church with us as the only family attending it.

My husband had, in this time, gotten involved with a movement called Christian Identity. It was something of a match with the World Wide Church of God which taught a form of British Israelism. However, Christian Identity took it a step further and said that the white, Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian, Germanic peoples were actually the 10 “lost” tribes of Israel. This meant that Jews were really not the people of God but rather imposters who were behind every evil conspiracy against the true people of God and who were the off-scourings of the earth.

I, on the other hand, had become drawn more and more into Christian Reconstruction, and from there into the Reformed Faith. I made contact with some local believers who were on the same journey but who were in different churches. Eventually, through the instrumentality of Still Waters Revival Books out of Edmonton we formed a local body who wanted to be part of a reformed covenanted church.

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