To Stand up and Speak: The Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blog Network

My sister was the one who introduced me to No Longer Quivering. She didn’t actually mean to, she told me she was reading a website called Quivering Daughters, and when I googled it I found No Longer Quivering instead. I wanted to make sure that this was a good thing for a Christian to read, and so I looked around for what the conservative Christian community was saying about the website, and read that the founder of the site was a raving atheist and a lesbian. Of course neither claim was true, I believe at that point Vyckie Garrison was only questioning her faith, and even though she now considers herself an atheist, I have never experienced to her to be someone who attacks people of faith. I don’t know where they got the lesbian claim, but I think that was scary for me because of my own same-sex attraction that I was determined to ignore. That was enough to keep me from reading. It wasn’t until several depressive years later that I happened on No Longer Quivering again.

Anger had just begun to bubble to the surface of my depression, and had prompted me to stop spanking my children (a decision I still feel changed my life) I didn’t know why I was angry, but I knew that I was starting to question some of the parenting choices of the Christian patriarchy movement I had grown up in. I had just begun a small blog I called “Musings of a Young Mom” where I wrote about the day to day mishaps of motherhood and explored my interest in the Catholic Church. One evening surfing the web, I happened on an episode of the TV series “The Secret Lives of Women” which interviewed women from the Quiverfull movement. I still considered myself Quiverfull at this point, so I watched with interest the first 2 women talk about how blessed they were and how much this ideology meant in their lives. I watched the many many children run around on the screen and saw the familiar long dinner table and the piles of laundry and the older sisters caring for younger siblings and proclaiming their hopes of becoming a Quiverfull mom themselves someday. “Just like me” I remember thinking, “that was who I used to be, and now I am the person they want to become.” Then the final segement of the episode came on, with Vyckie Garrison and her daughter Angel. They spoke of their experience of living in the Quiverfull/Patriarchal mindset, and how eventually Angel had attempted suicide which prompted Vyckie to get out of the movement -leaving everything behind- and reconsider all that she had believed.

Out of nowhere I found myself sobbing through the whole thing. Not the sympathetic watery eyes type of crying, this was the ugly streaming nose kind. I was shaking all over, my chest ached, memories in my head clashing with what I had been taught. I understood how Angel could get to where she did, I had thought about killing myself so many times. The seed that had been planted several years before when my sister ran away from home started to grow. Could the Christian Patriarchy be wrong? Could the Quiverfull mindset to which my purpose for existing was tied in my head, be harmful? And I talked, and talked and talked, and cried. My spouse listened patiently to everything I had never revealed about my childhood, all the things I had hidden because I wanted people to like my family, because I loved them. I thought about it for weeks afterward, and slowly I started to read the accounts from many other women who had left the movement, and girls who had grown up the way I had. For the first time I knew I was not crazy. My experience was real. If this many people were having the same experience in this theology, I was not alone. For the first time, I started to ask questions, and for the first time I realized it was OK to get help.

My journey bled into my blog. Writing isn’t just something I like to do, it’s part of life, part of survival, part of how I process the world and think things through. I wrote about my questions and my breakthroughs, and people like Hillary and Libby, Vyckie and Amy and Joe and others came right along side me. Eventually I got help, going to counseling for the first time. And I am still on that journey today. Asking who I am for the first time, putting one foot in front of the other.

Vyckie has a heart for survivors of abusive spiritual systems, and continues to reach out to those still living lives that others have mapped out for them. Recently she started The Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blog Network, a compilation of people who have traveled out of the extreme religious mindsets they once adhered too, and write seeking to warn and help others who are still there or trying to get out. I was surprised and honored to see my own blog included on that list. I encourage you to check out some of the other bloggers in the network, they all have very different stories, and different journey’s, and different conclusions. And yet here we are all together, trying to put ideas into words, telling each and every person out there trapped by a ideal logy that is damaging them, you are not alone, you are not crazy.

Thank you to all of the writers out there who aren’t afraid to put their ideas into words, who aren’t afraid to question things, and step out and make mistakes, their OWN mistakes. You really do make a difference in the lives of others.

THE SPIRITUAL ABUSE SURVIVOR BLOG NETWORK

No Longer Quivering – Vyckie Garrison

Roadkill on the Information Superhighway – Calulu

Love, Joy, Feminism – Libby Anne

The Phoenix and the Olive Branch – Sierra

Wordgazer’s Words – Kristen Rosser

Incongruous Circumspection – Joe Sands

Permission to Live – Melissa

Baptist Taliban and Beyond – Cindy Foster

Past Tense Present Progressive – Latebloomer

Dispelled: One Girl’s Journey in a Homeschool Cult – Chandra Bernat

Hopewell Takes on Life!

The Way Forward – Bruce Gerencser

Quiver Full of Information

Rethinking Vision Forum

  • http://www.facebook.com/dominique.payne.777 Dominique

    Be blessed Melissa, and thank you for sharing your experience. My own childhood church-experience wasn't as extreme as yours, yet it has had repercussions in my life. I'm in the process of reexamining my beliefs and sifting the wheat from the chaff.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02186532783034924482 Calulu

    You're pretty awesome and I'm inspired every single time I come here and read about your journey! Keep on shouting out the truth

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06410682651072046347 TwisterB

    "Not the sympathetic watery eyes type of crying, this was the ugly streaming nose kind." – You have such a way with words :D

    I'm pretty new to your blog and sometimes I'm not sure if you've talked about something or not. I am curious about your sister, was she older than you? How did her leaving affect you, since at the time you were still a follower?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    I haven't really talked about it much. It was a little over a year after I got married, she was the sister next down from me, and even though I encouraged her to stay with my parents, when she ran away I went to pick her up in defiance of my parents for the first time. It brought up a lot of emotions and questions. She ended up living at home again after short time away.

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    Your posts are always a pleasure to read and they are pretty amazing.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! where did you find the post calling Vickie a raving,atheist lesbian? Why would Christian people say things that are outright lies. Did they even investigate the situation? Maybe I should check out her blog. Does she answer these questions/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17967070182847617840 kisekileia

    Is this the same sister who participated in Libby's Ex-Quiverfull Q&A; project?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Kiskilia- No, that sister is a couple more siblings down.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17046924507335607146 Amy

    Thankyou, Melissa for sharing all these links.. I have really enjoyed Sarah's Journey.. and have been so encouraged by your journey as well!

    <3

  • BTDT

    I am struggling with the depths of spirtual abuse in my marriage. My ex was abusive in so many ways. But one of the most damaging was his QF beliefs. I now am a single mom of 6 kids. I am struggling to even find a job because I have been out of the work force for over 13 years. My ex of course believed that my job according to God was to be his wife and to take care of the children. I have lost my faith a long time ago, and my identity as wife and mother has been rocked to the very core. Our church and friends and his family walked away from me while I stood against the abuse which was also physical. My ex stood up in church and admitted to hitting me, yet the church still told me I was wrong for divorcing him. Yet now three years later I am struggling to make a life for the children and I. I can not find a job due to my lack of work experience. I struggle to be more than just a mom but have little time to find new friends due to the demands of being a single mom. Any there is absolutly no hope of dating. Every single guy that is interest turns and runs when they find I have six kids. Not one guy wants to take that on. So I am lonely and caring a burden becuase my ex used God and the church against me. I hate both him and God for it, and have a hard time forgiving myself for the loss of almost 20 years of my life.

    • Melissa

      Hi BTDT,
      I am so glad you got out. It is disgusting that the church abandoned you in that way, and sadly it is all too common. It is exhausting being a parent to mutiple children, and doing it alone would be even harder. And yet getting them away from a man who abused you was saving them from abuse as well. Good for you! You are not alone. There are many women struggling to get educated and employed after starting over, the No Longer Quivering site has some resources as well as a very private facebook group for networking and socializing. I hope it can be of some help to you. The loneliness doesn’t dissapear, but even some community can help.


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