Hi, I'm Susannah - Creator & Co-Administrator of Christian Survivors.

I'm a 32 year old from England. I am an NICU nurse by profession, but due to disabilities which have caused me to be housebound most of the time, often more or less bed bound, I am unable to work at present. I have severe M.E., or as Americans would term it, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia. I am also a survivor of domestic abuse and spiritual abuse. I left my abusive marriage in the May of 2003, and have been working on healing from that experience ever since. Most people on our forums will know my name from admin posts around the board, but there is of course much more to me than just my role on & participation in CS. I hope that this profile will give a little insight into who I really am!

What is my role on Christian Survivors?

My involvement with CS has changed dramatically since I had a major relapse of my M.E. several years ago. Up until that time I had been a full time worker on CS, on top of my part time nursing role. Since that relapse, I have been unable to consistently spend time on the boards ... though I do whenever I am able - A horrible loss for me, because CS is one of the most important elements of my life! However, both our staff and members have been incredibly supportive & understanding of this change ... and the staff team have taken over many of my former roles not only with capability, but with grace! I am still very much involved with the running of CS, to whatever depth I am able at any given time - and intend to increase my involvement again if & when my M.E. goes into remission.

I love CS, and all it stands for, and do miss both my time on the boards, and the close contact with our members, awfully!!! However nowadays, with my online time, energy, & abilities so frustratingly limited, my role there is usually very much behind the scenes. I handle the financial side of things & oversee & input into major decisions regarding the forum and it's staff & membership.

So who am I really?

Well ... you know, I'm not quite sure about that myself right now! Before I got ill, I might perhaps have said that I was a nurse. (It wasn't just a career for me, it was a part of who I was) I would also have said I was a Christian, or that I was a Survivor. I might have said that I am a carer ... because I live to care for & support those around me - particularly other survivors of abuse.

Right now though, I am standing in a place where much of that has been stripped away. I can't nurse anymore ... I don't even know if I will ever be able again!! I am still a carer at heart, but instead of being able to be that 'person', I have to be physically cared for myself now. I am still a Christian and I love God with my whole heart ... but I have some quite huge issues I am trying to work through - not with God himself, but with the church, as a result of the things that happened to me in the church where my ex-husband & I were members. I am of course still a survivor ... but those issues have very much had to take the back seat, as I have had no choice but to use the little emotional energy I have right now to just deal with being sick.

So, I feel like I am kind of in a no-man's land right now. I'm not sure who I am, and I'm not sure where I'm going. It's like my life is on hold. One thing I have realised though, is that although all the things I listed above were a part of me ... they don't actually define me. I think perhaps I have spent my life wearing various masks, to hide the 'me' that I never thought was acceptable. I've invested so much in doing this that those masks became invisible to even me! Now that those things are gone, I am slowly realising that I honestly don't know who I am - and right now, I'm not really sure how to figure it out! I do trust though that God knows, and will show me as & when I need to know!

Pieces of me ....!

I love reading fiction - my favourite authors right now are Kristin Cashore, David Eddings, JRR Tolkein, Arthur Ransome, Lisa Gardner, C.S.Lewis, Anne McCaffrey, Sophie Hannah, & Tess Gerritsen - I read a lot of modern crime fiction, & some fantasy, but have quite an eclectic taste otherwise. I have a growing collection of old collectable hardbacks, mainly Tolkein, & various childrens authors; I'm a dollshouse collector - probably trying to recreate my childhood, lol. I love all things miniature, and when I'm able, I create my own miniatures for my dollshouse, which is set in the 1930's. I love watching movies with my friends; I'm addicted to Lost, Dr Who, Gilmore Girls, Brothers & Sisters, Gray's Anatomy, 24, Robin Hood, Bones, & Stargate; My favourite perfume is Kenzo Flower; My favourite drink is a Blended Margarita; I love art, and try to collect pieces whenever I am able. My favourite artists are currently William Whittaker, John William Waterhouse, Marjole Gulinski, Jonathon Earl Bowser, & Selina Fenech. I think my favourite painting of all time has to be The Tempest by JW Waterhouse; I love art, design, & architecture from the Art Nouveau period; I love candles, and burning essential oils - I find it really relaxing; I hate to study!!!! (thank goodness that isn't required of me any longer ha!); I love my dogs! I have 2 white west highland terriers (Jessa & Kiya) who I simply adore!; My friend/housemate and I also now have a houserabbit (Bluebell) who has a hysterically large personality!;

*Takes a deep breath*...

I have a vision of seeing the Church in Britain (ok, worldwide!) become a place that is safe and healing for survivors of abuse. It angers me that so many church leaders & members misunderstand and mistreat survivors, when Christians (and especially leaders!) are the very people who most should accept & support them!; I love being with friends who are ok with me just being me!; I hate being sick because I hate that I can't do the things I want to do, because of it; I struggle with being sick more than any other reason, because I am proud and hate having to ask for help! *blush*; I love being with people who are real, and friendships where I can experience genuine intimacy - I prefer to spend my time with people who are willing to share their lives with me, rather than those who want superficial or surface friendships; I get annoyed with junk mail and telesales representatives, and I hate dealing with utility companies!; I am not 'religious' ... I have a relationship with God - it's Him who brings healing. He amazes me every day with his acceptance and love - no matter where I am at in my life!; I want my home to be somewhere that is safe for other survivors; I hate it when people judge one another unfairly!; I hate it when people put unrealistic expectations on me; I hate gossip! It's so destructive - and so uneccessary!; My favourite place to eat out is an Italian resturant called Ask where I adore the spaghetti carbonara!; My favourite ice cream is Haagen Daaz Pralines & Cream;

My Story

I want to share my story, in the hope that it will help others in similar situations, who need to know that they aren't alone. It is a fairly 'normal' story, in the realms of domestic abuse, and, sadly also in the domain of church-related spiritual abuse. I married at a relatively young age (21), to a christian guy from my church. (a vibrant evangelical church, where I had been closely involved for a number of years) I guess in the haze of being in love, I ran into things much too quickly, and we married far before he was ready for it - and without my really seeing what was beneath the surface of the 'nice guy' he portrayed. (isn't hindsight wonderful??) Very quickly after we married, the cracks started to show. My husband didn't adjust to married life as I had expected ... and within the space of just a few months, he had started to become increasingly agressive, violent, and verbally / emotionally abusive & neglectful.

We had spent time with one of our church leaders prior to the wedding, to do a marriage prep course ... so when we started having problems, I contacted them pretty quickly looking for help. Over the next few months and years, we were passed around from couple to couple, as no-one really knew how to deal with such an extreme situation. Over and over, these untrained counsellors tried to address the problems in our marriage by changing me (as I was the one who was actually willing to try), rather than confronting my husband (who was unwilling to work on his issues). Their hearts were in the right place, for the most part - I am sure they didn't intend to hurt me - but their misguided help only heaped guilt & burden onto me for things which were not my sole fault.

During those first few of years of marriage, I really struggled emotionally. My work life suffered. My relationship with God suffered. I was in so much pain and I just didn't know where to turn. I was even afraid to allow my doctor to prescribe antidepressants for me, for fear that I would be labelled 'unsorted' by my church. Eventually things reached a real crisis point at home, & I left my husband.

Believing that it was what God would have wanted of me, (Unfortunately I recieved no better council) I ended up going back to my husband just 6 months later - on the understanding that he would see a marriage counsellor with me, and would not be violent towards me... Once back in the marriage, however, I found myself in a position where all the promises that had been made to me while we were apart came to nothing! I spent a further 3 years with him, trying desperately to mend the marriage .... during which time I heard many mixed & wrong messages about my expected role as a christian wife, and my own blame in the situation - making me more confused and hurt than ever! I was even 'replaced' in my many years long role of Sunday School Leader in the church, under the guise of a new 'system' coming into the ministry. I am certain however that had it not been for my home situation, and the things they believed about me because of that situation, that they would not have considered removing me from my ministry.

Eventually I reached a point where my health was suffering so badly, my anxiety levels were so high (even to the point of self harming on a regular basis), that I had to admit that I just couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't make the marriage work ... because to do that, my husband had to be willing, & not just me. So, I decided, for the second time, to leave. I knew that this time I wouldn't be going back.

I recieved many mixed messages from my church leaders & friends during the first few months after I left. I chose to not go to church on a Sunday anymore, because he would be there, (the church refused to 'take sides' and ask him to leave) and so my contact with people was more limited. I remained in a small group there, where I tried to explain my situation and receive support (because they did of course know that I had left my husband ... just not why! But I was told that I could not tell the group that my husband had abused me, because that would be 'branding him an abuser'(!!!) Between this and other decisions the church made at this time, it essentially boiled down to the fact that he was being protected, and I was being unheard and unsupported.

Eventually, I came to see that I would never heal whilst stuck in that environment ... and I left the small group, and cut off contact with the church leaders. I tried to keep in touch with personal friends, but one by one, they all dissappeared .... as if seeing me would force them to accept truths they didn't want to know.

Now, several years on, I know that the decision I made to leave my marriage was the best I ever made ... despite the loss of most of my friends, and my church. My divorce is complete; I've been through therapy; I have moved to a new house, with people who I love, and who love me; and I am starting to find happiness!! ... My life is beginning to come together again. I'm not 'healed' by any means, but I'm getting there, step by step - and I am sharing the journey with an awesome group of people!!


Email Susannah

Susannah is a voluntary staffer at CS, working as co-administrator of the ministry. She is the Staff Team Leader; is jointly responsible for forum security; organises and oversees the financial side of running the ministry; Upkeeps the website, and manages the 'paperwork' that comes with running CS. You can read more about her role on the staff information page :)

All the staff at Christian Survivors work voluntarily here, and the organisation runs off the donations of it's members. If you would like to give a donation to our ministry, or a gift of appreciation to any of the staff here, simply email donations@christiansurvivors.com or visit the fundraising forum for more details! Many of our staff also have wishlists, to enable members to send them a gift ... or donations can be made to some staff members through the regular donations process (just mark it for that staff member, & contact Susannah to let her know that the donation is for a specific member of staff!)

If you would like to send a gift to Susannah personally, she has a wishlist set up on amazon.co.uk, to allow members and friends to send her gifts. This wishlist does not reveal Susannahs address if someone makes an order, and therefore it is safe and secure for her. Occasionally the list also contains items that CS needs, too, usually in the form of software or books. Any items like that will be marked as such on the list.

Susannah's Amazon Wishlist

This profile was last updated in Feburary 2009