Not all abuse is physical. In its own way, non-physical control and abuse is just as devious and harmful as physical abuse, and it hooks you harder. Very few of us think physical abuse is good or normal, but unfortunately our thinking can get bent by a mixture of good and bad. We put up with a lot of bad if we are told it is for a good end. The ends are supposed to justify the means, and the means at CJ were ones that caused me a tremendous amount of suffering.
One aspect of this suffering was in the area of boundaries, and the violation of them. I didn’t know this concept existed. There were no boundaries at CJ. My personal space (thoughts, emotions, creativity, work) were not considered mine, and were exposed and used at the discretion of the leaders. They supposedly were hearing the voice of God for my life, but I now know that is control, not Christianity.
Any issues (disagreements or emotional reactions) I had that were not in conformity with the desired attitudes and behaviors expected at CJ were used to berate me, isolate me and humiliate me.
I have come to realize, since leaving, that my internal problems do not separate me from others. No matter what I struggle with in my inner space, I’m still a normal person with many good qualities.
If any readers think this is obvious – behold the mindset of a high control victim. These basic human rights truths are revelations to me, and were not part of my everyday life in a supposedly Christian and loving community of believers.
I am able (I believe by the grace of God) to separate my experience at CJ from my belief in God. I do not believe it was God who put that suffering on me. I believe it was the leaders and their particular aberrances. Because of this, I have been able to question my faith in God and come to the place where I believe, and have the freedom to work out for myself what that belief entails.
I am reading CS Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” and also parts of Plato’s “Republic”, and find that I agree with their reasoning.