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!!
- ELIZABETH ESTHER LEFT
- JAYCEE DUGGARD LEFT
- COLLEEN STAN LEFT
- ELIZABETH SMART LEFT
- SHAWN HORNBECK LEFT
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…
Verily, verily I say unto thee, none of these highly specialized skills ever got me a job, but at least I’m all set for the end of the world. Selah.
A story of mind control, the Apocalypse, and modest attire.
Elizabeth Esther grew up in love with Jesus but in fear of daily spankings (to “break her will”). Trained in her family-run church to confess sins real and imagined, she knew her parents loved her and God probably hated her. Not until she was grown and married did she find the courage to attempt the unthinkable. To leave.
In her memoir, readers will recognize questions every believer faces: When is spiritual zeal a gift, and when is it a trap? What happens when a pastor holds unchecked sway over his followers? And how can we leave behind the harm inflicted in the name of God without losing God in the process?
By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Girl at the End of the World is a story of the lingering effects of spiritual abuse and the growing hope that God can still be good when His people fail.
Includes reading group discussion guide and interview with the author