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The Truth Series: Katelin



(wee trigger- references to intimate violence)

I overheard a security person tell her, “If you aren’t ok with him coming, let us know. We will stop him.”


She was sitting next to me. My heartbeat quickened and I knew I was in the presence of another wounded warrior. The desire to rescue her kicked in so I turned to her and whispered, “If you want to talk, I get you. Please call me.” With a hug, I handed her my card. She did contact me and asked me to coach her. We spent the following 2 years defining predators, praying for healing, laughing about dumb stuff, and learning skills to help her manage triggers. But mostly, she found herself again.


This Truth Series is for partners to share their stories. They may speak in anonymity or use their real identity. Katelin has chosen to use her real name as she shares her story. She wants to share this theory as it impacts her story:


 

Women in your church are being ABUSED but they don’t realize they are being abused because the faith community encourages young women to be naïve, innocent, and pure. This increases the opportunity for them to be easy targets for abusers because:

They don’t know what abuse is.


 

Here is her story:

Katelin was homeschooled in a Christian home and taught to ground her hopes and dreams in what scripture promoted. Outsiders perceived she had a good, normal childhood. Faith was central to her upbringing- attending church on Sundays, Bible studies, and as she grew up, she dreamed about her fairy tale wedding to the man of her dreams. This “prince” would be a Christian and treat her gently and lovingly. That’s what Christian men do, right? She was taught her marriage should be “equally yoked”. Well, except for the part about not “outranking” her husband. She believed she needed to be submissive to his ego, by allowing his God given title as “head of household” to lead the family. That was somewhere in the Bible, right? When she met Prince Charming, she was leaving a destructive relationship. He was the leader in her Bible study group at their church. He said all the right things, swooped in, and carried her to safety where she felt adored and cherished. Katelin was 21; he was 29 when they married. She was his 2nd wife. He was respectable and by all accounts, a real catch. Stable job, ready to settle down, homeowner, and loved the Lord. They had 2 weddings- one small so they could live together without shame (God doesn’t want unwed couples living together… that’s somewhere in the Bible too, right?) and a bigger princess wedding for family and friends.


Ephesians 5:22 states, “Wives submit to your husbands”. So, she did submit. She nearly lost her soul trying to honor him. The behavior felt wrong, but he didn’t hit her. The behavior felt wrong, but he didn’t call her names. The behavior felt wrong, but he said he was sorry… When he tried to strangle her while they were intimate in their bedroom. The behavior felt wrong, but he didn’t hit her. The behavior felt wrong, but he didn’t call her names. The behavior felt wrong, but he said he was sorry… When he asked her best friend if she would join them for a 3 way. The behavior felt wrong, but he didn’t hit her. The behavior felt wrong, but he didn’t call her names. The behavior felt wrong, but he said he was sorry… When he was so rough during sex, he left painful bruises on her thighs. The behavior felt wrong, but he didn’t hit her. The behavior felt wrong, but he didn’t call her names. The behavior felt wrong, but he said he was sorry… When she found pornography on his computer.


As she became more confused, she mentioned his violent sexual behaviors to a friend who responded, That’s not normal.”


At that moment, a wee light began to flicker in her heart. With curiosity, she sought the answer to, “What is normal in the bedroom of a married woman?” She could not find that answer in the Bible the Song of Solomon didn’t mention strangulation... She also felt something was “off” about her husband. She couldn’t put her finger on the specific issue, so she became her own private investigator and figured out how to dive into the depths of his computer, where she discovered a dark world she did not know existed. 18 months into her marriage, she found proof of infidelity. She mustered her courage, abandoned what she had been taught all her life in church about wedding vows, packed up her things, and left. Her road to healing was treacherous. “I became a robot after that. I divorced at 23, sold the house, had a full-time job, and got my Master’s degree with perfect grades… after I gave myself 1 week of grief and staying drunk.”


Here’s more of our interview: Me: Where is the best place you found support? Katelin: Outside of the church- a supportive coach who understood this trauma and another safe space was with friends who were not Christians. Me: What did your non-Church friends offer you that the church didn’t? Katelin: A judgement free space and they actually knew that some of the stuff I was talking about was from pornography. Me: What would you do differently today if you had a redo? Katelin: Find that group of women who fiercely supported me and hold on to them, before I got married. Me: How are you even able to look at your experience as a blessing? Katelin: I got hope from asking God to let me support at least one other woman so she could get free. And, eventually, my story filled me with a lot of power, motivating me to overcome and become stronger so my story would be one of victory. Me: What do you feel your purpose in life is now? Katelin: My purpose is to speak up and lead women in church to have courage to say their truth and honor their truth. Me: If you could leave the readers with a final thought, what would it be? Katelin: Religion made me who I am today, and religion broke me and made me the person I am today. Katelin is healing today. She is a successful businesswoman, working on her Doctorate, exploring a new relationship, and snuggling on her 2 frisky dogs. She is still angry with the faith community. She believes churches continue to exploit young girls growing up as Christians by choosing silence around issues related to problematic sexual behavior. Katelin would also like to let you know, if you want to contact her, she would love to hear from you: Katelin.henninger@gmail.com


 

If we look at the words after Ephesians 5:22, wives submit to your husbands”, we will find Ephesians 5:25 which states, Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

I wonder how our churches would shift if they focused on 5:25 instead of 5:22.

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