Starting in August years ago, I traveled abroad with the intent to visit a university I was accepted to and to help plan a ministry trip for 30+ people from the US. I was to reside with a pastor and his family. A supposedly “safe” home to be in. The pastor did not inform me of his three adult children from a previous marriage. After a month of my being there one of his older sons decided to take an interest in me. Until then he had not even been courteous enough to say hello when visiting his father. Then things changed. He took an interest, and I was intrigued. It all started so normal. We went on some dates and within 5 days he told me he loved me: WARNING. Over the next week the pastor and his wife had a very violent argument with ceramics flying, kids screaming, and his older son removing the younger three as well as myself from the home: WARNING. I then went to live with the associate pastors family of 8 who I didn't get along with well. I became isolated.  During all of this the pastor’s son was aggressively pursuing me bringing up things like marriage, children, and the like.

Time seemed to fly with my planning the trip. I thought I was safe. I made excuses for his poor behavior over the fact he was currently unemployed. And for many other things saying they were cultural differences. They weren't. His pressure on me in regards to who I spoke to, spent time with, and what he thought of my family all escalated to the point that I was basically alone in a foreign country. He made everyone out to be evil in some way and that they wanted to destroy our relationship. He pressured me to the point where I was dependent on him for everything. He used my money which was limited. I had to use his vehicle to go to and from where I slept and his home each morning at 5am on the dot. My phone broke so my only way to get in touch with family or anyone was with his computer. But he was “the great Christian guy”.

 In November my parents came for the ministry trip. My mother couldn't stop crying after meeting him. She wanted to run from this man. She calls it her Holy Spirit Alarm. My father didn't understand the severity of the issue. A few days after the trip this man came down with appendicitis and he almost died. His father never came to see him in the hospital: WARNING. Naturally I took care of him because there was no one else in his life to do so: WARNING. It took about two weeks for him to recover to a functional state. During all that time he was still feeding me with how everyone wanted to destroy what we had but that is was “ordained by God” I was always a little confused when he spoke. Again it’s our cultural difference, that’s why. But it wasn't, he twisted words and scriptures just enough that they sounded right but I always felt lost.  On an almost daily basis he pressured me to elope. He would say things like “what does a piece of paper matter” and “you need to make your own choices, you’re an adult” but my choice not to elope was never what he would accept. There was a continual pressure about what marriage truly was and I always told him I would never elope.

We had promised each other that we would not have sex till we were married. He had been experienced as he is 10 years my senior and sexually active. At that point after all these pressures he raped me. He had consumed about 5.5 long necks and was intoxicated and I doubt he even remembers what he did to me. He is convinced that I had agreed but I did just the opposite. And then he threw me out and told me to go home. He was angry, scary angry. From that point on I didn't know what to do. I didn't even know how to dial the police there. I didn't have friends because he wouldn't let me; I had no car, no phone, no money, no family and no hope or way to get home. I was in shock, literally. From that moment on I became void. Void of feeling. Void of emotion. Void of everything. I couldn't fight, and I couldn't flee. I was a zombie. I did what I had to in order to survive.

 If it meant cleaning the house, doing the dishes or having sex with him I did. He was the only person there I thought I could trust because I didn't really get along with the family where I slept. He started to get even more verbally abusive and very degrading. Making nasty comments about things I couldn't change. I could never do anything good enough for him. He started pressuring me again to elope saying we were already married. At that point I was scared he was going to get physically violent with me. He started asking me almost daily what I would do if I got pregnant. I never realized what he was doing. My existence relied on this man, 10 years my senior, a “godly” man, who was really the scum of the earth. Constantly 3rd day and Mercy Me were playing. I still can’t listen to them, it makes me relive.

 He had no job, was always home and had the only car. He put me through such a manipulative emotional roller coaster that a letter ended up being written and sent to my family that I never wanted sent. I felt like it fully destroyed any relationship and I just gave up on ever being home. I had become his personal slave. About 3 months later I got a prophesy at church in the middle of the sermon by the pastor that I would be returned to the foundations of my youth. And this man was scared. The only time I ever saw true, deep fear in this man. I remember it so clearly. Two days later my father and brother were on the doorstep and took me home, Liam Neeson style.

I was so thankful to be home yet I still had limited communication with him. I didn't fully know how to end it because he had me so brainwashed about my family, friends and everyone else that I thought he was my only ally. I found out two weeks after being home that I was pregnant. I didn't know what to do but felt I was supposed to try and make things work and keep a relationship going. I shouldn't have.

Our communication was still limited till he began getting abusive in his emails about how I wasn't showing him he was loved etc. So I started Skype everyday at 2pm no matter what with an email in the evening. I missed out on many things in friends and families lives to be there at 2. Then it yet again upped because I could never do anything good enough. There was Skype at 2, an evening email, and a nightly phone call. Our conversations usually ended with me in tears because he was abusive and would berate me for being a minute late, not writing enough even if he only wrote a word or especially for not getting on a plane to return.

 My son saved my life. I almost lost him to miscarriage. I was so emotionally abused I would have gone back, but was told by my DR. not to fly.  Daily he pressured me to get on a plane, saying “if you loved me…” He would cuss at me about my parents and how they “controlled” me and how I didn’t love him, and “if this baby was even his”. I was in such shock and it took many months of this before I could see what was going on and what had happened. My parents were in a motorcycle accident and this man was an ass about it. The curtain lifted a little. Each time I heard a sermon in the car or at church, the curtain lifted. Each argument, the curtain lifted.

Then the truth of what happened to me penetrated my heart. Around the same time I found him contacting women on Christian mingle. He lied about so many things on his profile, the biggest being “no children”. I was livid and seven months pregnant. That’s when I knew I was ending everything. I was not going to live in the abuse or be in constant contact with my assaulter. I was so afraid what he would do. I honestly thought he would hire a hit man. Nevertheless I did it, I ended everything.

The communication lasted such a long time but when I was finally able to cut off communication with him he lost it. He called my home multiple times a day leaving nasty threatening messages, spoke with and threatened my mother, and also sent threatening emails. Many of which stated “I am coming to get my son” etc. Years later they still happen.

 On December 26th the day after Christmas and two weeks after I gave birth we had a man pounding down our front door at 7am to serve me papers. He was taking me to court to try and take my son. This man is a very real threat to my son and me. He has shown he will stop at nothing till he achieves what he wants, either by voluntary action or by force.

 I never knew of his lengthy criminal history, he hid it from me very well. If I had known I would never have gotten involved with him. But God has protected us when I thought all was lost going through court, and the visitation. It is going on 6 years this August since I left here to go abroad. It has taken a long time to have a “normal life.” I couldn't go outside, to stores, or anywhere other than church for over a year. I still relive things. The nightmares have subsided, the fear of the dark hasn't. And God has called me to help others. To inform and educate others. To show you His truth and that there IS hope. To help give you the voice your attacker tried to take.

 I’m still healing and I’m extremely cautious with people. I’m getting to know you. I’m being safe. I was the good Christian girl. My life was altered, through abuse I never even saw till I was far from it and in a safe place. I was too naive. But God. Through his strength, I thrive.

I want you to share your voice with me. That we are victorious and cannot be crushed by another’s decision to alter our lives. We are above that. We are strong. We cannot be silenced.