The Woman Without a Voice: A Journey Through Abuse-Part 3
I want to thank those of you who stopped to send your thoughts, who shared Anna’s escape fund link and who donated. It’s not too late to help, and I hope you will consider it. I will include the escape fund information at the bottom of this post (she has also posted an update there I will include). If you are new to Anna’s story, you can get started by reading Parts 1 and 2.
Last week, you found out Anna has children. Through the years as I’ve watched them grow, I believe they have been one of her greatest inspirations and sources of strength; especially for leaving her abuser and the cult. On the days where I’ve seen her ready to give up, I know it is those beautiful kids who have kept her going. She is fighting what seems an uphill battle sometimes. I have found myself incredibly frustrated for her. I live in a state where this would have already been finished. She’d have her freedom. Unfortunately, Anna does not live in such a state. What she has had to go through to protect him makes her a superhero. And even a saint. More from Anna:
1) What was it like finding out you were pregnant for the first time?
I was excited. All my life I was groomed to be a mommy. A woman wasn’t a woman without children…and several of them! I viewed is as this magical moment of me finally being all that a woman should be – a mom. We got pregnant much faster than I expected – literally the month I went off birth control pills I found out I was pregnant – with twins. ACK!
2) Did any of your chores and household duties change when you were pregnant? For instance, did your husband realize perhaps you might need more rest during pregnancy?
Well – at the time he worked nights and slept all day. I did everything anyway. I was incredibly sick – I ended up losing one of the twins on my 21st birthday. Then I had hyperemesis gravidarium and lost 17 pounds from not keeping water down. It was miserable. But the church views are that a woman didn’t stop when she was expecting – that it’s just pregnancy and you’d still better keep your things done.
3) How did he feel about the pregnancies?
He was excited, but he’d never been around children before and was very apprehensive.
4) Did he help once the kids were born?
He changed diapers. But the babies slept with me in my room and he slept in the guest room when he was home at night. All their care was pretty much left to me.
5) For you, what is the most important aspect of making sure the kids aren’t exposed to the cult?
Being in a cult is further reaching than you will ever know. When I left, every time they were around the members they heard that I was going to hell; that mommy was wrong and “of the devil.” They heard it over…and over…and over….
They heard the minister tell my husband to throw my worldly things away (which the children then chose to do on their own) and to treat me as a child. I would get in the car and turn the radio on – they would scream and hold their ears and tell me I was going to hell and needed to turn that off NOW! I remember once being in a jewel neck tank top and a pair of capri pants and the children quoting scriptures and telling me that my shoulders showing would send me to hell and that they were embarrassed by me. I think the moment I realized something was terribly wrong was when one day we stopped for a funeral procession and my oldest child said “Wow, that man’s burning in hell now” and when asked why my child would say that, the answer was that the man who had passed didn’t go to church with us so he had to have gone to hell. Random moments walking in a store – seeing a woman with makeup on, wearing jewelry or shorts – they’d announce that that person was hell-bound. I didn’t want my children growing up thinking the world was hell-bound and they were better than anyone else. I wanted them to live without fear. You see – everything was fear bound. One sin would separate you from the love of God. One sin would send you to hell…which they knew in great detail as a place of wailing and gnashing of teeth. They were ruled by fear – not only from their father but by their intense fear of death.
6) Since you’ve been separated, I know there have been some really positive changes in both of them. Can you go into that – just as much as you want to share?
They’ve both learned to relax. My oldest after being underweight for years has started to gain weight at a rapid pace, catching up. They’ve got this light in their eyes. They dance and sing and giggle. Oh granted we have years of therapy ahead of us, but they truly have become sweet, sweet little children. They’re much calmer. My oldest hated touch – not wanting to cuddle or even really just spend time with anyone. That’s changed. Reading and computer time were the escapes from reality and often my oldest child would spend hours and hours doing both and when I needed to get their attention I would have to physically touch them, almost like they were in a trance. The computer’s been unplugged for 6 weeks now-without much fuss. We can truly live life now. Knowing that we are human. Imperfectly Perfect Humans.
Everytime I see the kids, I see growth and change. I see a light that wasn’t there. It is so promising and I look forward to the day they are fully free.
If you would like to help Anna and her kids by donating to her escape fund, please click here. Here is her update:
I wanted to take a moment to let everyone know how grateful I am that you’d take the time to ready my story.
This week has had its struggles. The kids are suffering from triggered flashbacks and it’s really been difficult. I’m exhausted. Dealing with my own recovery and then looking into these innocent little faces as they beg me for answers really has been emotionally draining.
The eating disorder has really manifested this week. I’m literally going one day at a time. Some days one minute. I’m not complaining. I’m working towards thriving.
Thank you again so much!
Next week we will go into the steps she has taken toward leaving and what that has meant for her. Thank you again for reading. – Heather