The Abuser Hooked her in Bible College, deceived her, married her, abused her: Dying Star’s story Part 1
She was a genuine Christian honestly wanting to serve the Lord, only to have her nightmare begin in a place she thought would surely be safe. This is part one of three parts in which “Dying Star” will tell us all the stories of how abusers deceived her.
I don’t know it yet, but I’m about to enter into my first abusive marriage. I am just 18 years old. I have just started college at a small, conservative, Southern Baptist Bible college close to my hometown. I was born and raised in a Christian home by kind, loving Christian parents. I watched my parents have an amazing marriage and that’s what I want for my life, too. Divorce will forever be out of the question. No, I’m going to find my prince charming, get married, and live happily ever after.
Marty sweeps me off my feet just five months after I begin college. He says all the right things. I mean, wow! This guy is crazy about me. I’m 18, he’s 24. He is in seminary, working on his master’s degree. He wants to be a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force. I admire him for his courage, passion, and willingness to share the gospel. He asks me to be official with an elaborate display of candles, flowers, and glittering gemstones. Within a week, he is talking about marriage. Within 3 weeks, we combine our bank accounts. In 6 months, he proposes to me by having an airplane tow a banner in the sky for all to see. He loves me. I’ve found my happy ever after.
We marry. I’m barely 20. I stay in college and work toward my four year degree as he continues his master’s. Things quickly change after we say, “I Do.” Marty has the shortest fuse I think I have ever seen. He goes off like a loose cannon at the slightest annoyance, and I never know when it will be or what will set him off. I went shopping with my mother. I spent $15.00 on clothes. Only $15.00. I come home, eager to show my new husband the outfits I got at a bargain price. He flies into a rage, screaming at me, telling me that I am “ruining his life” by spending money. Then, he grabs several $1 bills, rips them in half, and staples them next to every light switch in the house. He tells me I need to remember to turn off all the lights when I leave a room, that way I won’t be spending “his” money, although we both work.
Months pass. Things do not change. Marty likes to flirt with the female employees he works with, and it shows. He talks about their bodies to me as though it’s normal. He tells me that I need to practice being submissive to him. He severely beats my puppy for chewing a hole in the comforter and throws her down the stairs, resulting in her making noises I’ve never heard a dog make in my life.
He forces me to watch him view pornography so I will get over my fear of it, and all the while, tells me he can do it without sinning. He even refers to some of the pictures on the computer screen as “beautiful” or “like artwork.” He is a youth pastor on Sundays, and I have to sit in church with a fake smile plastered on my face while he preaches “the Word” to the teens at the church. They all look up to him and simply adore him. They have no idea what I deal with at home. He is an elaborate speaker. His guest sermons at the church are very capturing and everyone loves to hear him speak. People tell me how lucky I am to have him as a husband. If only they knew.
He drives violently when he is angry. It scares me. I ask him to slow the car down, and he only speeds up. Finally, one day, I tell him I think I want to leave. He goes into a rage. He tells me if he can’t have me, nobody can, and that he will crash the car and kill both of us. He gets the car up to about 90 miles per hour and spins it in the middle of the road. We end up in a ditch, but thankfully, nobody is hurt. The front bumper is hanging off the car. He looks at me and says how lucky I am that I’m still alive.
We visit a theme park with roller coasters, and I’m looking forward to a fun day. Suddenly, he sees two little girls in bathing suits (around two years old), and he tells me he has to watch himself, because, as he puts it, “any man” can “stumble” over a child. This terrifies me. He also tells me that every man fantasizes about rape. He tells me that when he was younger, he fantasized about raping and killing young girls, and said he even knew where he would bury their bodies. He told me that way, he could have them whenever he wanted.
He puts down my physical appearance. My legs are too big from all my running that I do. I need a tan. My hair needs to be blonde. The list goes on. He even goes as far as to admit to me he is attracted to some of the teenage girls in the youth group and that he has to ask their parents to make them change their clothes so he won’t stumble. I guess he wants me to see how godly he is and how he is supposedly trying to “honor me.” Eventually, he begins to physically show his anger towards me. He pulls my hair and slaps me if I make him angry. Sometimes I lock the door in the spare bedroom to hide from him, and he beats on is so hard that it leaves cracks and holes in the wood. He does this until I break and open the door for him.
Finally, I tell him it’s over. I’m at my parents’ house when I do this. It’s close to his birthday. I didn’t mean for it to be this way. It was just bad timing. He goes out into the yard and sobs and cries. I feel guilt. I feel shame. I’m barely even an adult, and I’m getting divorced. Something must be wrong with me. Maybe I deserved all of this. Maybe I asked for it.
He is now remarried with a baby. He is in ministry. God, please, don’t let him hurt her too.
Don’t miss that last line. HE IS IN MINISTRY! Christian ministry! Ordained. This scenario is in no way uncommon. In fact it is very, very common. I have not kept count of the abuse victims over the years whose abuser was a missionary, a pastor, an elder, or some “holy” pillar of a local church. This cannot be chalked up to naivete on the part of churches, seminaries, missions agencies, and so on. This is a willful blindness for which a great accounting will be given on that Day.
Posts in this series
Part 1: Is this post.