I Was Prepared: A poem exploring the intersection between Christian doctrine, purity culture, & abuse.

I’m going to be really vulnerable with this post and share a poem that I wrote after I analyzed the “Power and Control Wheel” while specifically trying to understand how Christian doctrines, religious abuse, purity culture, and patriarchy fit within the wheel.

In my analysis, I highlighted and wrote out personal experiences from church & church leaders, overall Christian doctrine, and Christian cultural norms that correlated to each part of the wheel.

The light turned on, but my eyes blinked rapidly to adjust and make sense of it all. I started scribbling down my thoughts as quickly as possible, desperately trying to make a mind map of my revelations. I wanted to depict how the beliefs with which I had been indoctrinated led to being vulnerable to abuse which, in turn, led to a pattern of abusive relationships.

As I scribbled, I finally found the words, “I was prepared…” And, then the rest started pouring out.

Now, before you continue below, take a moment and check with yourself. Are you in a place to read content related to different types of abuse, sexual assault, etc… If not, come back and read it later.

I was prepared. 
I was indoctrinated.
An all encompassing world view 
prepared me for it all.

I was prepared…

to see things as black and white.
Men are leaders. Women are submissive.
Men are logical. Women are irrational.
Men are clear. Women are ambiguous.
Men are hypersexual and cannot control their urges.
Women only tolerate sex as a way to please their husbands.
Marriage is between one man and one woman.

I was prepared…

to be obedient.
Follow what Mommy and Daddy say.
“Because I said so.”
No more questions asked.
Otherwise, CRACK!
We’ll whip your ass.
For the Bible tells me so.


Doesn’t that normalize violence?
Shouldn’t we teach children to respectfully question authority?
Protest injustices?
Bodily autonomy? Consent?

I was prepared…

to stay quiet. 
Shhh! Don’t question it!!!
Maybe it doesn’t make sense, but…  
We don’t talk about it. 
Shhh! It’s unbecoming if: 
You’re too loud or big. 
Don’t take up space. 
Really, you should only be seen 
(and, really, only if you’re pleasant to look at).
As defined by the male gaze.  
You definitely shouldn’t be heard. 

I was prepared…

to distrust my intuition.
I have questions. This doesn’t feel right. 
Shhh! Stuff it down. No questioning it! 
For The B-I-B-L-E (yes, that’s the book for me) says, 
“The heart is deceptive above all things and beyond cure.”
Besides, haven’t you heard? 
Women are crazy, emotional, and irrational.
Who could trust that?

I was prepared…

to gaslight myself. 
Again with that damn intuition.  
All those “gut feelings.”
Nevermind that you’ve noticed a pattern… 
That she’s right, every damn time. 
But- I’m a daughter of Eve. 
I can’t be trusted. 
So, deny. Avoid. 
Sweep it all under the rug.
Forget about the growing knot in your stomach. 
Don’t talk about it 
(sex, abuse, feelings…)
You name it, we avoid it…  
So long as it’s anything of substance 
Or would make others uncomfortable, 
Especially if those others happen to be male. 

Oh- wait. 
Did you hear? 
The pastor raped a minor. 
Shhh! Don’t question it! 
We don’t talk about it. 

Acceptable speech:

He’s a male. 
He can’t control himself. 
You saw what she wore to church every Sunday. 
She was asking for it. 
She enjoyed it. 
She’s a slut. 

Acceptable attitude: 

He’s a male; 
We have empathy. 
We excuse his bad behavior. 
After all, women are the problem. 
They take after Eve. 
They seduce men. 

Unacceptable speech:

He’s an adult. 
He’s responsible for his actions. 
She can’t consent. 
That’s rape. 
That’s coercion. 
There’s a power imbalance. 
Who reported it to the police? 
Who held him accountable? 
Who protected her?

Unacceptable attitude:

She’s a girl; 
We should protect her. 
We can’t make excuses.  
After all, men are responsible for their behavior. 
They are responsible for: 
controlling their desires.   
Understanding consent. 
Following the law.
Practicing safe sex. 

I was prepared…

for the fragile male ego. 
Submit to men and their inherent authority.
Respect them. 
Sit in a closet, pray, and hope that 
“God shows them the way.” 
Otherwise, he won’t hear you
Because respect is only one way.  
Hyperfocus on their needs 
Make them happy. 
We’re responsible. 
Tip-toe, tip-toe. 
Walk on eggshells. 
I had an opinion he didn’t like –
The eggshell busts along with- 
Me. My body. My worth. 
I merely appear to threaten his worth and authority;
He destroys mine all while telling me it’s my fault for… 
Saying something that made him angry. 
Not being a “good enough” partner. 
Undermining his authority. 
Letting myself go. 

Make it pleasing: 
Wax and shave to look prepubescent. 
Stay skinny.
Keep hair long. 
Always look perfect and pleasing. 
Smell pleasant.
Put on makeup. 
Not too much. 
Dress to leave something a mystery. 
Don’t dress frumpy.  

Now, I’m confused. 
Which is it? Is my body desirable or not? 
Is my value my body or not? 
It’s all starting to crumble. 
Nothing is making sense. 
Let’s try again…

I was prepared to…

submit to the male gaze. 
I’m an evil temptress. 
I take after Eve. 
Men can’t control their urges, so I must: 
Cover up from head to toe. 
Control my actions and moves. 
Lest I become a stumbling block.
Be clear and concise.
Be friendly, outgoing. 
Embody Proverbs 31.
The girl next door. 
No sex until marriage. 
Be sexy. 
Not sexual. 
No thoughts about sex. 
When we’re married,  
Become a freak in the sheets.   
I’m responsible for my purity and his. 
Men lead relationships. 
I must submit. 

Stop. Wait. 
I’m confused, again.  
How do I submit and take responsibility? 

I was prepared to…

take responsibility. 
Don’t lead him on. 
If I do, I’m responsible.
Blue balls. 
He’ll be in pain if he doesn’t cum. 
I’m responsible for his pain. 
To ignore it, goes against my purpose:
To be his helpmate. 
To make his life easier.
To ease his pain
while I smile to cover mine. 

Wait. I’m confused, again. 
I led him on.
He’s in pain. 
Now what?
Do I stay pure? 
Do I take responsibility and help him finish? 

Too much pressure. 
Too many confusing messages.  
I’ve been set up to fail. 
I’ve failed. 
I was confused.
I didn’t know what to do. 
I made a mistake.
An unforgivable mistake. 
A shameful mistake. 
It’s entirely my fault. 
I’m eleven. 
I’m ruined forever.
A chewed up piece of gum. 
Who would want that? 
I’m eleven and my life is over. 
What’s the point?  

But, remember: 
Follow the rules: 
Don’t talk about it. 

When I put it all together, 
I realize exactly how I was prepared. 

I was prepared for the perpetrators.

I was prepared… 

to be vulnerable. 
to be a victim.
for rape.  
For sexual assault. 
For domestic violence. 
For all types of abuse. 

Perpetrators seek power and control. 
They seek victims who are 
Easily manipulated and controlled.

I’m passive.
I have no voice. 
I don’t know choice. 
I’m quiet. 
I’m an observer. 
Seen. Not heard. 

I don’t question. 
Disconnected from intuition. 
It’s been hijacked. 
Attuned to others’ needs. 
The very source of my power. 
My protector and guide. 
Becomes my guide to navigate their needs. 

I’m not separate. 
I’m not my own. 
I don’t own my body. 
What’s consent? 
I don’t know my needs. 
I don’t know what I want. 
I’ve been indoctrinated with beliefs. 
To which I never consented. 

Who could describe a better victim? 

So, you see, I was prepared. 

Indeed, I was prepared.  

If you read this far, thank you so much for your time. I truly appreciate it, and if you found it helpful in any way, please share with someone else that might find it relevant.