Lynn’s Story: “How Purity Culture Enabled My Step Dad to Sexually Abuse Me”

Link to "How Christian Purity Culture Enabled My Step Dad to Sexually Abuse Me"
Link to “How Christian Purity Culture Enabled My Step Dad to Sexually Abuse Me”

A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Lynn writes:

“What baffled me then but makes perfect sense to me now is why he thought that I would be reassured by his repeated promises that he would not cross the arbitrary line of virginity. He had no real plans to stop using me as his fluffer. But my virginity, which he had pledged to protect and to keep safe for my future husband, was off-limits. As time went by and his fluff-sessions became more lurid, I feared the line of technical virginity would be like the Maginot Line, more an illusion of safety than an actual defense.

But he kept his promise. And now I understand why. The emphasis placed on virginity by the Purity Culture allowed my step-father to minimize his non-vaginal sexual abuse of my body.

I still cannot imagine what he thought that I would feel knowing that he was using me so that he could have sex with my mother. I wonder if it occurred to him how degrading and even disloyal it felt. I felt like I had been forced into a sick and incestuous ménage a trois. And of all the abuse that I have endured, including a nearly deadly sexual assault, this made me feel the dirtiest…

My step-father couldn’t woo me using Purity Balls, because there were none at that point.  Back then, fathers were encouraged to woo their daughters on regular dates.  My step-father would bring me flowers, open doors for me and generally treat me like I was his much younger girlfriend. The example that he set for me while on these dates was supposed to keep me from picking bad guys in the future. The logic seemed to be that a man who opens your car door for you will never beat you, and if he pushes in your chair for you, he will never try to rape you.

Not only is the logic behind these dates appalling flawed. To me, these dates felt more like an excuse for my step-father to re-experience his youth. He got to be seen with a younger woman on his arm, and more importantly he got to spend an hour or two basking in the warmth and adoration of someone who was not allowed to challenge him.

I am not being egotistical when I say that my step-father fell for me, developed a huge and creepy crush on me during those dates. Had we been allowed to have the normal step-father/daughter relationship where we ignore each other and occasionally snarl back and forth, I feel fairly sure he would never have developed that heartfelt affection and sexual attraction.

But  the dates succeeded in one way: They taught me exactly what I should expect while dating men in that environment: abuse.” (linked above).

Please note: this post and the reading provided here are not meant to infer that any specific denomination or group of Christians are synonymous with Purity Culture. The Purity Movement/Community/Culture are variations of a subculture wherein people have made grievous errors in their treatment of sexuality, virginity, and God’s standard of purity.

Furthermore, despite arguments to the contrary, the teachings and traditions within Purity Culture are rarely based upon what God has dictated as good sexual health and practices. Despite the fact that Purity Culture almost always ignores the existence of sexual abuse within its midst, God is very clear that abuse of any kind is wrong and that sexual abuse is abominable. He is far more concerned about the state of a person’s soul than their sexuality. Furthermore, while Purity Culture uses shame tactics, the God of the Bible is not a God of shame but a God of mercy, grace, and forgiveness. He desires to show His unconditional love to the sexually broken and, through His Son Jesus, make them whole.

Fore more on Purity Culture:

What I Wish I Had Known About Abstinence

Free at Last

I Am More Than The Length of My Skirt

Purity Culture, Defeating the Dragons

Don’t Blame Evangelicals for the Cult of the Virgin

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