Jun 192014

Recently I read “Girl at the End of the World” by Elizabeth Esther and it was another book that I related to.

If you know my story I was taken by a ministers son when I was 15. He and his parents used scripture to chastise me, punish me, and train me. I was brainwashed and after 5 years of living like that I narrowly escaped with my life.


Yet, when I read Elizabeth Esther’s book I became one of those people. One of those people wo says with each page turn, “why didn’t she just leave if she knew it was wrong?” It’s been a couple of weeks now since I read the book, since it triggered my own PTSD, since I asked those questions that EVERYONE asked me!

Marisa, you saw your family, you had some contact with the outside world. Why didn’t you leave?

You know what?

It may have been five years of being beaten, raped, brainwashed – all in the name of a God who I had grown up trusting but in the end I DID LEAVE!!


We are all free because we knew it was wrong and we saw our “get out of jail free” card and we escaped.

We tell our stories. We advocate for other victims.

Yet, reading Elizabeth Esther’s book I actually thought like one of those outside people who has no clue and I questioned this girl who was raised inside a cult. I wondered why she didn’t leave in school or say something when she knew it was wrong.

The truth? Fear of the unknown is far worse than conforming even when you know it’s wrong. The brainwashing/Stockholm syndrome/fear is less scary that the outside world. Yes. Fear is the heaviest, most debilitating chain to exist.

For me it’s been nine and a half years since my escape. That’s nine and a half years of phantom chains holding me captive as I struggle to fall asleep. Nine and a half years looking over my shoulder hiding in my room distancing myself from life so I don’t have to risk pain. Nine and a half years of therapy and medication that barely helps. Nine and a half years of re-establishing my faith, my position as a mom, a daughter, a sister. Nine and a half years of paralyzing fear.

It took five years to destroy me and I still wonder who I am. I still wonder if I will heal. I still wake up confused that I am not in chains. I am scared EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

I look pain in the eyes and I understand and each time I read another story, hear the news, it shatters my heart that I am not alone. It breaks me into a billion pieces when I consider how many stories we don’t hear.

I pray everyday that no one would ever again feel like me.

So I apologize to Elizabeth Esther for even thinking she could have/should have got out.

Taking those steps are the scariest thing. I pray that she will continue to advocate and share and help others understand and heal.

I still struggle every day. I am trying to accept that I am actually safe. Trying…


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  4 Responses to “I Thought Like a Non-Victim and I am Sorry”

  1. I’ve been guilty of this too. Having grown up in a spiritually abusive church and leaving around age 20, you’d think I’d understand the fear and uncertainty better. The fact that leaving such a church tends to condemn you hell, one way or another, according to how you’ve been raised. That leaving can destroy relationships you hold dear. That escape isn’t as easy as pushing a button and making it all better.

    You’d think I’d understand it better. But I still pause and think “why in the world didn’t they leave?!”

    Then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror…

    • It is so sad and so scary that this happens more often than we realize but it is beyond important IMO to share our stories because if we can save just one person, open just one persons eyes, show one person that it is okay, then we have succeeded and all that we have went through wasn’t in vain. (((hugs))) to you friend!

  2. I did not know your story. Thanks for sharing it here, and for reminding those of us who haven’t had the same experience not to jump to conclusions or make assumptions about what people did or didn’t/could or couldn’t do, and to remind us to be sensitive to the needs and experiences of others. And for walking through the pain of sharing your story to encourage and free others.

    • I am pretty candid with my story and have been for several years. As a result I am often the one who is playing therapist in the night as I open my heart and my ears to those who are hurting and I feel so blessed that God is using my own experience to allow me to relate to others and make them feel comfortable enough to express what weighs so heavily on them. I talk a lot on an older blog of mine that i no longer maintain about what happened with me. You can read it at http://hidethemeatches.blogspot.com
      Thank you for your kind words and for stopping by!

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