Adhering strictly to my religion gave me a reputation. It made me a target. I was known for my prayers and my refusal to deviate from the path to God.
My abuser knew I would never betray him. He knew I was incapable of disobedience to God.
I did come to neglect my prayers, believing they would not be accepted, and knowing that, I doubted my intentions and sincerity in offering them. So I abstained from prayer, and kept the rest.
Most religions teach obedience to men. Most religions strictly reinforce patriarchy. The abusers among us know this. In such a religion, where men are venerated and women vilified, there is not much difference between an abusive husband and an abusive priest. Your husband is your ticket to heaven. If you displease your husband, you get a ticket to somewhere else.
The system is set up to create dependency on men and slavery of women. It is in a man’s best interest to perpetuate this system, as it gives him godlike powers over others, and in many countries, legal authority. Who can resist thinking that they have the right?
I am deeply ashamed to have followed such a system, to have chosen it upon reaching maturity when I had other options. I have guilt.
Because my abuser knew he could abuse me. Because of my devotion. I was a walking future victim.
When I knew, absolutely knew, that all was deeply flawed was when I was watching my home life play out in the eyes and hearts of my children. When I saw their pain, their dysfunction. I knew the God of my religion was not Divine at all, but a construct of Man who left a horrible system of misogyny to ruin lives for thousands of years. But I could not talk of it. I had to hide it. The only reason I was left alive at all, I am sure, is because I did not do wrong. There was no good reason to kill me. I never once compromised the honor of the family, despite all suspicions and all punishments for imagined slights, my abuser could not manufacture any good reason. He knew it. If he thought I had left my religion, in my heart, or in my mind, he would have assumed I had no moral compass at all, and I would not be here, now. I would have been condemned, for imagined future crimes against his honor, and I would have been dismembered.
This is a common misconception among adherents to religion. They feel religion imparts morality and there is no other way to do so. This is simply not true, but despite knowing I had ethics and morals, I knew I could not convince him, a delusional and violent man, of my good intentions whether God be in existence or not.
I had to pretend to believe. For a long while. Until I could escape with all my children.