Woman looks back: ‘You never know what someone else is going through’

Josh Rinehart and Brittany Marx

Freshman Amber Vetter is a student at IVCC. She is 38 years old and plans on getting her degree in nursing. She enjoys coming to school; and more specifically enjoys her Sociology class.

While Vetter shares these traits with a lot of other students at IVCC, her life prior to being a student couldn’t be any more different.

Most students entering in as freshmen have come directly from graduating high school. Vetter, however, was taken out of school around 8th grade, and devoted her life and heart to the religious teachings of a local religious organization she refers to as a cult.

“I became an official member when I was baptized at 14,” Vetter recalls, “and I didn’t fully grasp what I was doing.”

Her life within the organization consisted of studying religious scriptures and spreading their message throughout the area. College and higher education were frowned upon, because they instilled worldly views instead of teachings that aligned with their beliefs.

She felt pressured to marry young, which resulted in being involved in an unhealthy marriage for 17 years. Divorce was not allowed within this organization, despite valid reasons because according to Amber, “no matter what I did, I would still be viewed as an adulterer.”

This raised questions with her own beliefs and aided in shedding light on the reality of her position within the organization. Two and a half years ago, she chose to end her marriage, which resulted in her being publicly excommunicated from the organization, and being shunned by everyone in it, including her close friends and family.

Since leaving, she has remarried and says, “it’s a whole different life being married to someone that loves you.” She now finds tremendous joy in the small freedoms of every day, and continues to view life through her personal experiences in relation to the only life she knew.

She has learned many things since leaving.

“I’m enjoying all the little things,” Vetter shares, “like learning what a fraction was, like in English class, we read a poem by Edgar Allen Poe. I’ve never heard of him!”

Despite her integration into the secular world, her children from her previous marriage are still in contact with their father on a regular basis, and face severe pressure within the religious organization to shun their mother as well. They have chosen to remain non-official members to keep contact with their mother.

Although Amber deals with confusion in grief from the life that she lost, when asked if she was happy, she simply replies, “Yes, yes I am.”

One thing Amber stressed after experiencing the world with no one by her side, was a message to “always be kind, and always be accepting because you never know what someone else is going through.”