In her book The Secret Lies Within, Anne Beiler shares her story of personal loss, sexual abuse, and spiritual manipulation at the hands of a community pastor. The founder of Auntie Anne’s looks back on her past filled with psychological torment and shares how she overcame the trials through God’s grace and by communicating with her husband.
Beiler said the death of her 18-month-old daughter Angela from a farming accident took her on a downward spiral. Inside she was terribly hurting and grieving but maintained a facade of a smiling wife. She recalled how she felt guilty after she blamed God for Angela’s death and so sought counsel from a well-respected pastor in her community.
However, the pastor abused his power and sexually abused her and told her not to tell anyone. Beiler endured his physical abuse and rape for six years and she kept this a secret because she “believed in his leadership.”
“…Because that’s all I knew how to do,” she said.
The continued assault took its toll on Beiler’s emotions and body. Weighing just 92-pounds she was on the brink of suicide. But she never lost faith in God and took everything out in prayer, which Beiler credit as a “vital in our brokenness” and the only thing that saved her from suicide.
She also finally broke free of the sorrow and shame when she told her husband Jonas about her dark secret and shared her struggles. Beiler practiced transparency and full honesty in their marriage, which “took her into a new world of light and truth.”
Her confession also revealed the pastor’s sinful behavior. It turned out that he not only abused Beiler but also her daughter, her sisters, and her best friend.
However, despite the confession, the trauma of the abuse affected her for 20 years. Beiler suffered from depression and was in and out of counseling. It was only when she encountered the works of Rev. Richard Dobbins, a pastor, and psychologist who integrated psychological principles with faith, that she was fully able to move on and become who she is today: free of shame and ready to embrace what the world has to offer.
Through confession and communication with God, Beiler paved through the darkness to become a light and an inspiration for other women in living a life of confession and prayer.