*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
We often visit the internet for silly memes and viral videos.
Every now and then, however, it’s used for things that are far more important.
An anonymous Reddit user posted in the popular subReddit r/RelationshipAdvice to describe her harrowing situation and seek advice on how to move forward.
“I will try to keep this short. My family & my husband’s family are members of a fundamentalist Christian denomination, of the type that views women’s roles as exclusively to be a ‘helpmeet’ to their husband and to raise children. I don’t think people realize how dark that world is really, but I won’t get too much into it.”
“Lets just say that unless you’ve been super brainwashed or actually somehow believe it, it’s not a good place for women, or kids, or really anybody.”
“I was homeschooled for my whole life and rarely had any interaction with anyone outside of the circle until I was 18. I wasn’t allowed to talk to people who weren’t from my church unless it was for the purpose of trying to convert them.”
“From an early age I knew I was different and by puberty I was crushing on girls and having sexual thoughts and feelings about them. After reading my diary when I was 14 my parents sent me to conversion therapy, which was an awful experience and obviously didn’t work.”
“Between the ages of 15 and 18 I attempted suicide 11 times. After being released from the hospital the last time, my parents essentially farmed me out to family friends to help with their children and to attempt to find someone to court me.”
“When I was there I had unmonitored internet access for the first time and joined an lgbt group locally under a pseudonym and started going out to meet people when I could since the supervision was more relaxed than it was with my parents.”
“At one of these meetups I met a girl who I fell completely in love with and started dating her in secret. This was in April of 2017.”
“Fast forward to when we had been dating around 8 months. It was around this time of year and we went out to a Christmas light festival in a neighboring town.”
“Usually people from our denomination don’t go to that kind of thing because it’s not god honoring but friends of the people I was staying with saw me there with her and told them. By the time I got home that night my parents were there waiting for me.”
“Two months later, after being forced back home and having everything taken away, I was introduced to my now husband, and by May of this year we were married.”
“I don’t love him. He doesn’t love me.”
“He 100% buys into everything that the religion teaches but had a failed courtship and then did mission work. He’s literally told me that the only reason we are married is because he feels like Jesus’s mission for him in life is to ‘heal’ me.”
“It’s been 8 months of absolute hell. Everything I do is approved by him, I only have friends who are the wives of his friends or are from church.”
“I don’t have a job. I literally keep a box that I told him was a hope chest and put enough baby things in that he doesn’t know I have a tablet and books that I’m not supposed to have.”
“I know that this isn’t really the typical kind of thing that gets posted in this board, but I’m desperate. I’ve been talking to my girlfriend again since I got the tablet.”
“I’ve been trying to mend things with her. I know that I need to get out of this situation but I have no idea how to.”
“I’m afraid I’m going to get dragged back into this hole again and I can’t. I am hoping that this board might have people on it, even just one or two, that can help me to leave safely and permanently.”
It’s hard because if I do go I have to basically build my life over again from scratch and I don’t have any family or anyone who would help or support me in any way.”
OP would later return with these follow-ups:
“Edit: I can only be on for short periods of time at a time so I will try to come back later but I wanted to thank everyone who has commented and messaged.”
“Ebbie I will reply to your message as soon as possible. I will try to keep updating and replying as I can.”
“Edit 2 10:27 mst: I have to get off for now. I will try to come back and update when I can. Again thank you all so much.”
scratchy_cigarilloes sent in their advice.
“I was in a bad relationship this year that was difficult to get out of because we lived together. My mom told me ‘never let your circumstances dictate your well-being.’ It’s more difficult than it sounds, but that’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten.”
ElyriaRose also wanted to help.
“Can you research women’s shelters in your area?”
“If you go, you need to go sooner than later, because it will be much more difficult if there are children. Having a life that you had to build from scratch will be difficult, but you will be so much happier. I wish you the best of luck.”
nygibs had some incredibly insightful things to say to help the OP.
“I just wanted to give you some support from a distance. I escaped a cult and arranged marriage when I was in my teens, and really really feel for you.”
“An internet stranger once told me these words – the words that gave me the courage to get out of there myself and go into the unknown world. He said, ‘It is always worth the upheaval of the world for even a chance at a better life.’
“And it really, really is.”
“You’ve received some great suggestions here. And I know I’m an internet stranger myself, but if you need specific tips, or a willing ear, or an untracable phone card, I will gladly offer my help.”
alh9h took the Redditors’ messages to heart.
“Wow. What a comment. I was going to give you gold but instead I made a donation to the Safe Passage Foundation https://safepassagefoundation.org/”
FTP-Forever had some sage, though explicit, wisdom.
“Holy s***, girl. RUN. Are there any women’s shelters in your area or in neighboring towns/states? Do you have any money at all?”
“PS Don’t go accepting help from any random a** internet stranger. Absolutely 100 percent get the f*** out of there, as soon as you can, but please be safe and smart about it.”
veryruralNE hoped for the best from this scary situation.
“Look for those who have successfully left this specific community, if at all possible. You’ll need someone who knows exactly what it takes to make a clean break. Do everything you can to avoid getting pregnant. Children are often used as leverage in these situations.”
Desert_Fairy offered a word of warning.
“You are an adult, and as such you have the right to leave at any time. Money is one challenge, another is if your parents can use your attempted suicide to get you put on a psychological hold and then get a judge to rule you as mentally incompetent.”
“Then your husband would have legal guardianship over you. You need to avoid that at all costs.”
“Anything your husband or family does that makes you look unstable helps them. Stay calm and level headed.”
“I’m sure others have better advice on how to plan your exit, but I wanted to say that I believe in you and I hope you get the hell out of there ASAP!!”
victoriaoleva left OP a message of hope that we all need sometimes.
“I felt this post deeply because I also grew up in a fundamentalist Christian environment and everything you said is so similar to what I was taught and forced into growing up.
I GOT OUT AND SO CAN YOU!”
“I have ended up with a college degree (which women aren’t supposed to do) in the sciences ( blasphemy! ) and working for the government. I had to go through a divorce first, but luckily I got full custody of my son and his father doesn’t speak to us or bother us at all.”
“You can change your life. Follow all the good advice that has been posted on here for you and know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.”
“Please feel free to message me. I would love to help in any way that I can.”
“Be strong. You can do this.”
“The author uses his own personal story of being born into a Christian fundamentalist family with extreme beliefs to paint a vivid picture of what life is like in toxic ideologies such as fundamentalist religion.”
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/
LGBTQ+ Youth can get help through:
TrevorChat — 24/7/365 at https://www.thetrevorproject.
TrevorLifeline — phone service available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386
TrevorText — Text “START” to 678678. Available 24/7/365.
TrevorSpace — online international peer-to-peer community for LGBTQ young people and their friends at https://www.trevorspace.org/
Trevor Support Center — LGBTQ youth & allies can find answers to FAQs and explore resources at https://www.thetrevorproject.