violence in the home

a horrible story of a woman whose religious husband couldn't love his wife as himself but claimed authority that she needed to submit to. marriage is a picture of Jesus's relationship to the church. this isn't that picture.

For many years I had been moving in the direction of depression and mental disassociation. Fortunately, I continued to read academic literature on social justice issues relating to race and poverty. At a certain point I became convinced that God did not intend one set of human beings to be permanently subordinate to another, I came to see my own circumstances in this light. I inwardly denounced my own subordination as wrong, and believed that God intended me to function as an equal. Althought this flew in the face of the teaching in my church, I began to move towards hope and survival.

When I finally started considering divorce, I was afraid that he would get joint custody. I could not bear the thought of the children being with him and my not being there so I decided to stay with my husband until they grew up. A few years ago, through police intervention, the physical violence was brought to an end.

However, the threats and psychological abuse, the desire to subordinate me have continued. My husband fed off every mention in the church of the submission of women. He routinely pointed out that I was not submissive. I was not, but I was faithful and carried out the responsibilities of my job and family the best I could. Eventually every vociferous denial of my own subordination brought a measure of relief from abuse, and replaced it with distance, in this case, a life-saving distance. I came to realize that my original tacit acceptance of subordination had enabled the abuse.

I was intensely loyal and for 30 years, from the time of our engagement up until a few months ago, I never told one person about the abuse. I made excuses and covered up. I was unwavering in my loyalty and fidelity. I finally realized that when the children leave home, which is very soon, I will be left in the house alone with a person I am afraid to be alone with.

I recognize that violence is a pathology and not the result of wrong teaching. However, the teaching of submission and loyalty was impressed on me every day to keep the blame in my court and keep me silent. I was told by my husband that if I told anyone about something that was private between us, he meant the abuse, that was the same as infidelity and I would be punished for it.


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