Eighteen year-old Samantha was like any other person, and her life was far from perfect.
Her parents divorced when she was 3-years-old. Finding God three years after the divorce, Samantha’s father became very strict and legalistic.
“We weren’t allowed to go out with our friends very often. We never went to the movies,” Samantha remembers. “Everything had to be monitored.”
Even her dad’s church seemed “cult-like” to her with their regulations. In her eyes, Samantha’s father lived as a hypocrite and she began to resent Christianity as a whole.
Wanting a religion with fewer rules than the legalistic Christianity she had been exposed to, Samantha discovered Wicca at age 12 when introduced to the religion by a friend.
The main rule of the Wicca faith is “Do as thou will, and it harm none,” Samantha says. So as long as she did not hurt anyone else, Samantha could virtually do whatever it was that she wanted.
As a nature-based religion, the foundation of Wicca is the gathering of power from the main elements- Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit.
“I loved it,” Samantha says, “When I physically gathered the Elements’ energy, I felt powerful and calm.”
But even with that power she claimed to experience and although she loved being a part of this rule-less religion, Samantha felt alone and unsatisfied.
“I just eventually realized that I need rules in my life. I need some sort of structure, some ‘being’ that I know is always there,” she says. “And I needed that above all else.”
With home life not getting any better, all Samantha wanted was to be loved. When she was 16, she got involved with her boyfriend, Nate. However, Nate was not the prince charming Samantha had hoped for.
Abusive and controlling, he would get whatever it was he wanted from Samantha with force.
At first, Samantha tried to fight back, but she tolerated the abuse. All she ever wanted was to be loved.
“I didn’t have that at home or at school or anywhere, and I knew that even though Nate was going to beat me up when I was with him, I also knew that there would be a period where he’d apologize and give me flowers and kiss me and tell me he loved me,” she says. “That’s all I really wanted.”
But life continued to spin out of control.
As a result of being raped, Samantha developed a detachment when it came to sexual intimacy, which is not an uncommon side effect for women who are rape victims.
At first, it was a way for Samantha to try to regain control when she voluntarily slept with random men.
“I was telling Nate, in not so many words, ‘Screw you, I have control over my life, and I have people who still want me,'” she says.
But her addiction only escalated as she began to sleep with men she only met that night and did favors for men thirty years older.
Her attempt to take back control over her body only caused her to lose even more control of her life.
Feeling even emptier, Samantha found a new boyfriend and new escape- drugs. Her new boyfriend, Derek, was a cocaine addict who helped her get involved with the drug and alcohol scene by supplying her with the drugs that he was taking himself.
“My favorite drug was Ecstasy. It made everything feel better. Every physical touch was amplified by a thousand,” she says. “It just made everything happy.”
Samantha says she turned to drugs because it helped her forget everything; but, that turned out to be the biggest problem of all. Not wanting to deal with the problems of her life, Samantha continued her downward spiral of sex and drugs in hopes of forgetting the life she led.
“It’s a scary feeling when you wake up the next morning and hear stories of what you did the night before and you don’t remember any of it,” she says. “Especially when the stuff you did isn’t even close to who you are or what you stand for.”
Samantha emancipated herself from her parents when she was 17 and became engaged to her druggie boyfriend, Derek. But when Derek went to jail on drug charges, she says she felt herself reach another dead end.
She says Derek having gone to jail broke her down completely to give her life over to God. In the past, it was the fear of being viewed as a hypocrite like her father that kept her from taking the leap of faith.
But as her adult life began, she realized she had reached the end of her rope, so she began her new life with Christ, she says.
“I knew what I had to do, and my life was in such shambles that I knew that if I didn’t turn my life over to God, I was going to get hurt. I was going to get an STD or die in a drunken car crash or overdose or something like that,” she says.
Now a new Christian, Samantha finally found the love she has been searching for all along. As a result, her relationships began to change as well. She is now friends with her parents. Her father, rather than being judgmental, is now a person she can go to when she’s struggling.
Samantha says she now has the strength to deal with her past. She recently has been able to come forward about being raped.
“God has given me the courage and the strength to come forward and say ‘This happened to me. But it is not who I am,'” she says. “I don’t let it define me anymore. I can face it head-on and am learning to move on.”
Samantha is turning her life around as she is currently getting her GED in the hopes of being able to go to college and become a counselor for abused women or rape victims.
“I want people to know that they’re not alone in their struggles. I remember feeling so isolated from people and from God, and that is the worst feeling that you can imagine,” she says. “If I could save one person from staying in an abusive relationship or turning to drugs and alcohol or being raped, it would be worth every ounce of pain and humiliation. And, if my life brings one person to God, I would do it all over again.”
Names have been changed to protect privacy.
Please send success and horror stories of your Wiccan experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org.