This is my story. Names and places have been changed to protect the identity of my family but what is recorded here is true. This is a catalogue of the abuse that I experienced, the excuses I made to justify what was happening and a record of the impact it still has on my life.
The influence of the church also plays a significant role in my story. I will avoid naming the denomination but certain characteristics of the denomination shape my life. Historically, this church has always allowed female ministers and as a result, ministers were only permitted to marry other ministers. If a minister wanted to marry non –minster be they a member of the congregation or even someone not a member of that church, the only way they could do so was by resigning as a minister. This was the way in which my father and mother came together. They both arrived at church minister college in 1959. In those days, male and female students were kept apart in college , but finding themselves both placed in the west yorkshire region, they married in 1966 and I was born the following year.
Brought up in such an environment, I always had a strong sense of vocation and felt at the age of 14 that my life’s calling was to follow in my parents footsteps and I too prepared to be a church minister. I left school in 1983 and enjoyed a successful career working for some of the top finance houses in the city of London before entering the same ministers training college attended by both my parents in 1990.
I’d had girlfriends during my teenage/early twenties but none of these relationships were serious because the same rules still governed the love life of church ministers and seeing this was my life’s ambition, it naturally followed that I would choose my life partner from those women that had the same sense of calling.
The whole curriculum of the college was designed to meet the needs of a husband/wife minister team. The majority of students were young married couples, with there being a fair number of single males and females. The cultural conditions often meant that those who began their student days as single, soon finding themselves in a relationship. Conforming to the peer pressure of college life, many of these relationships became ill-suited marriages.
I resisted the temptation to fall into the college relationship trap. I could see the dangers of how relationships could form unhealthily in such pressure pot conditions. All students were assigned a local church to work alongside with and this is where I first met Sandra.