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Coerced into Marriage

Like many very young women at WRC, I was coerced into a marriage that, in my opinion, neither person in the relationship wanted.

Omitting all details, I filed for divorce. I should have known that the entire church leadership would intrude into and scrutinize the most personal, painful details of my life.

At the behest of my parents, I met with Steve to tell him “my side of the story.”

After I shared, Steve said that he’d already discussed with leaders and my family the details of why I “wanted to get out” of being married, saying that it was all frivolity and just having “foolish” thoughts in my head. He told me specifically that “romance in a marriage isn’t real.”

He explained he believed that I was “just disappointed” that I didn’t have a “rom-com” relationship.

It was wildly patronizing. I interjected and said “this isn’t about romance.” I shared about serious circumstances. He shrugged and said “Well, you may say that, but, what I’ve heard is that you get confused sometimes or, like, you don’t know what’s going on half the time. That’s their words not mine. I don’t remember who told me that specifically.”

OMG. I knew immediately that this whole meeting was a set up. I knew because I’d seen it dozens of times happen to other people, just like this. Steve was establishing the narrative; setting the terms for how this was going to go down if I proceeded with the matter.

The church had decided. There had already been the frenzied meetings, posturing, plotting, sitting around figuring out how they were going to frame it and save church optics.

Steve explained that some people, “not [him] of course,” thought that I was going “crazy,” and that’s really why I wanted to “throw away” the marriage.

Before I left, Steve had one more question for me.

This whole time, I’d been sitting in an armchair in his library and he was sitting in a second armchair near me. He asked me this question: “So, before you go, just, tell me this, what is sex like, hu?”

He literally slid out of his armchair, onto the floor, coming toward where I was sitting. He knelt down at my legs, crossed his arms over the arm of the chair I was sitting in and said “Does he get angry? What is the look on his face when it happens?”

I do not remember what I said, if anything. I left soaked in sweat and shaking. I remember screaming when I got in the car.

WRC was the only world I had. To find that I had nowhere in it to go and no one to whom I could turn was shattering.

I have only one email that Steve Gray sent proving the kind of intrusion I faced, where Steve, copying a church leader, tells the husband not to sign the papers.”

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