A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Believe Her

This post was written by Megan C.  Thanks Megan for allowing us to use it.

* * * * *

The first time my ex husband physically hurt me, I felt relief.

Now, I could maybe tell someone that I had suffered PHYSICAL abuse and, often, people are more affected by physical abuse than emotional, spiritual, mental or sexual abuse. One woman said, “I knew he was difficult to live with but I had NO IDEA he was hurting you PHYSICALLY.” It was like I now had permission to leave — because there were visible bruises. I have heard many women who left horrid, hell-like marriages, having survived heinous acts of manipulation and mental suffering say this: “I wish he had pushed me down the stairs.” A friend, in fact, recently wrote a blog about this very thing. If there was “evidence” . . . if her ex had put her in the hospital . . . maybe people would not make her the bad guy for finally having the courage to run away from the darkness that was her marriage.

In CS Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, no one believes Lucy when she tells them she has found an entire new country through the back of the wardrobe. Perplexed, the other 3 children go to the professor about Lucy. After all, Lucy has always been honest. She has never displayed acts of manipulation or craziness. The children cannot understand why Lucy will not recant. They are stunned when the Professor asks them, “How do you know that your sister’s story is not true?” He then explains that there are only three logical possibilities: either Lucy is lying, she has gone mad, or she is telling the truth. Lucy was never a liar nor had she gone mad. Not only that, but the Professor asks them which one of the two children (Edmund or Lucy) was most likely to tell the truth. Lucy is more likely to tell the truth. A new perspective had developed.

This perspective is what is sadly missing in the lives of so many people surrounding abused women. I am at a loss as to why a perfectly sane, honest woman is allofasudden a liar when it comes to the abuse she is suffering at the hands of her husband — behind closed doors — LISTEN — where no one else lives. I see this all the time now. A woman is respected, honored, looked up to by so many people in the church. . .  until she admits to someone that her personal home life is a living hell. NOW, she is doubted, questioned and treated like she is a squeaky, high-pitched crazy woman who is crying wolf. Where did this come from?!

Friends . . . most of the women I know who have bravely left a man who was killing them on the inside emotionally and mentally are intelligent and loving human beings. Look at their track record. Look at their character. These women have had vibrant, living and active relationships with Christ for as long as you have known them. Why would you doubt them now, when they need you the most? Yes, their lives have not been easy and their pasts may be marked by strange behavior, covering and hidden pain . . . but that RIGHT THERE should be the indication that something was very wrong in their private lives and, not only that, that they are dealing with it alone.  She was trying to honor her husband all those years; trying to respect him. She might have been threatened by him. Maybe he questioned her every time she got home (“Who did you talk to?” “What did you tell them?!”). She had a reason for not telling you earlier.

If a woman seems to suddenly leave a spouse, has the courage to admit what was going on, or runs for safety, don’t take it upon yourself to decide to judge her. You did not walk in her shoes; you weren’t there. You have no right to make any decisions about what her life was like. Look at who she has been all this time. Did she walk with the Lord? Was she trying to follow Him? Does she love her children? Has she loved YOU? Believe her. I would much rather err on the side of loving belief of a sister than make the unconscionable decision to shun or abandon her in her darkest hour.

With Respect, Megan

 

31 Comments

  1. Well said! Your main point is similar to the Start by Believing campaign, http://www.startbybelieving.org/, that addresses sexual violence (also a form of domestic violence). I’ve said for years that if you consider what these women are risking to save themselves and their children, that should make their truthfulness pretty obvious.

  2. Laurie

    Thank you, Megan. You stated it just right.

  3. I remember saying to my Pastor, “I wish he would just hit me and then people would understand what he was doing.” Those words surprised even me as I really hadn’t fully acknowledged the domestic abuse, had thought it all had to do with his addictions and my co-dependency. Thank you Megan.

    • AJ

      I have said the same thing to my pastor. If he hit me somehow it would make more sense to myself and to others. My pastor often goes back to the fact that there has been other women, which feels like he condones leaving on those grounds but won’t touch the he said/she said of abuse. The abuse has been by far more damaging and hurtful than other women. (only speaking for my own experience here, no implication that those feelings wouldn’t be different for others)

      • Oh no, AJ, I feel the same way. Other may not, but I can certainly relate to what you’re saying, and I just recently had a similar experience. As soon as the adultery was mentioned, the heads started nodding in agreement. I had to insist that was NOT why I filed though. It was the abuse.

      • Anonymous

        That’s interesting. Apparently, Dr Willard Harley, author of His Needs, Her Needs and quite an acclaimed marriage counselor, claims that infidelity is experienced by women as worse than rape. I have seen this used by abusive men to berate women who have sadly fallen for another man when they felt abused and unloved, quoting Dr Harley as insisting that having an affair is worse than abuse. I have tried to find out from my survivor friends how they felt and so far, they have said that the psychological abuse was the worse than the adultery.

      • Anon – I would say that adultery is a form of psychological abuse…a very powerful form of abuse.

    • Little Miss Me

      I told my “friend,” a pastor’s wife, that I wished he would hit me. She immediately discounted my statement (“You don’t REALLY mean that”). That was possibly one of the worst non-physical beatings of the whole ordeal. Not that I wasn’t used to being dismissed, but telling her that was really a cry for help – a feeble attempt to tell someone who I thought would understand how bad things had gotten.

  4. Megan, you succinctly made so many very important points! Thank you so much! I feel personally defended by your words!

  5. Dru

    Thank you Megan!

    • Teresa

      Well said Megan!!

  6. no name please

    Yes, Megan, you said what I felt too!! Thank you for putting it so well into words!

  7. joepote01

    Very well stated, Megan! Thank you for sharing!

    • Bethany

      Thank you for sharing! I always thought I was crazy when I would think things like “If he would only cheat on me then I could leave him” or “If he would file for devorce then I would be free” I am glad I am not the only one who saw the hipocracy of it all.

      • Bethany, this is one of the things that really got my attention with divorce for abuse. I was thinking about Matthew 19 one day and the question occurred to me, “OK. Let me get this straight. He can’t sleep around on you or else you can leave him, but he can beat the living daylights out of you and you have to stay? And that makes sense how?”

      • joepote01

        No, you’re not alone! Abuse is such a horrible evil, and so twisted…and most churches seem poorly equipped to deal with it.

        I posted on this topic, just yesterday, at http://josephjpote.com/2012/10/covenant-abuse/

  8. Bethany

    I struggled with this for a few years before I left and then about a month after I left. I wanted a divorce and to be free but I didn’t want to sin against God. Everywhere I turned I was told that I couldn’t separate from him unless he became violent and even then I should never even think about divorce. Like Megan I felt relieved when the cops showed up at my door and took my husband away because he had left physical burses all over me. It wasn’t the first time he had hit be but it was the first time he left a mark so people would finely believe me, or so I thought, Imagine my surprise when my pastor said to me “He’s Bipolar it’s not his fault, you need to be there for him and support him, not abandon him in his time of need. It’s not like he was trying to hurt you.” I thank God that this site exists or I might have obeyed my pastor.

    • Song

      Bethany, well, I think my blood pressure just rose up reading these words from your pastor “It’s not like he was trying to hurt you.” arrghhh!! What a ludicrous statement to say to you. That was very callous of hom. And it amazes me how many pastors say those same kinds of statements. I’m pretty sure if someone was beating up on them, it would hurt them.

    • MeganC

      Oh, that makes me angry, as well. 😦 How awful to put such responsibility on a wife — “You need to SUPPORT him in his time of abuse an instability.” WHAT?! Good heavens . . . .

  9. anonymous

    Very good point, Barnabasintraining. I’m fairly certain you were not intending in your post to isolate out other forms of abuse besides physical…. So just for others’ sake, I’ll take up where you left off and add …
    And remember that “beatings” take many different forms besides physical. Abusers love to think they could not possibly be considered abusive simply because what they are doing does not constitute physical harm. But they are deluded. Abuse is anything done that shows disregard for the relationship. Ongoing patterns of mind-games, dishonesty, forms of betrayal, callous disregard for spouse’s perspective, being unapproachable for problem-solving, angrily blame-shifting rather than owning mistakes, withholding financial information, neglecting to provide help with parenting needs, having an entitlement spirit that selfishly demands own way, constructing situations to make spouse look crazy, tampering with vehicles … and other gas-lighting type behaviors — these all fall into the category of mental and emotional torture rather than physical blows, but they are still just as much abusive and just as damaging. Especially when done while wearing a public mask of “devoted Christian.”

  10. Kay

    Thank you Megan and all others who commented. It always helps me to read other’s experiences. Even after 3 years of being free, I sometimes question in my mind, if “it was that bad” Then I read a post that I could have written and it affirms that Yes it was that bad. For so many years, I questioned every feeling, every thought – because – as you know – life was CRAZY!
    I was reminded of a conversation I had with a spiritual leader in my life one time when I was separated from my abusive husband. When I told him I never wanted to live with my husband again, this spiritual leader man, who I had high respect for, told me I was being selfish. We were in a coffee shop and I said, louder, than he probably wished I did, “Should I wait until he breaks someone’s bones and then it will be ok to leave?” I do not remember his answer, but I know I didn’t ever talk to him again. What makes people say stuff like that? Who was being selfish? The man who demanded his control over his family! The man who yelled and screamed, threw things, called us names, with held love, etc. I know I don’t need to go on for you to understand. I still feel angry when I think about the pastors who counseled me in a similar way for many years. And that anger comes up when I read posts here about the way others are being and have been treated by so called Christian leaders.

  11. MeganC

    Thank you, friends. I am so glad to know that I am not alone in what I have experienced, as well. Your comments have encouraged me!

    • Little Miss Me

      Megan, I forgot to say thank you for writing this – and I’m really happy that you’re able to put that ‘ex’ in front of all references to him. Here’s to safety, security, and sanity!

      • MeganC

        Thank you, LMM. And, yes!! There IS sanity!! ❤

  12. Rebecca

    Thank you so much for sharing this Megan. You’ve articulated so well the cycle of what really does happen. I can relate all too well…and you are certainly not alone! Sometimes we just need to be reminded of this, too.

    Rebecca

  13. Song

    Thank you, Megan, for writing this. I liked the whole thing and specifically the “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” reference of the new perspective, and what you said here – “This perspective is what is sadly missing in the lives of so many people surrounding abused women. I am at a loss as to why a perfectly sane, honest woman is allofasudden a liar when it comes to the abuse she is suffering at the hands of her husband…” It truly is befuddling when that happens.

    • MeganC

      Sweet Song . . . Sometimes I wonder if those who don’t want to believe us or who look away live in our old “normal” or have a bit of an abusive tendency themselves. I cannot be sure. Either way, it doesn’t make sense, does it?

  14. Christy

    I left my ex almost 3 yrs ago. I tried telling my church what was happening. I was told to pray for him, to pray harder, to have faith, read this book, etc. My friends made all kinds of suggestions on how to make my marriage work. I dragged him to 4 different marriage counselors. One of them took his side, but the other 3 saw him for who he was. But they would start poking at his stuff and he would refuse to go back.

    I finally had enough….. Enough of him and enough of other people trying to fix a problem they didn’t believe existed. When I left, I lost all my friends except one. Some still say they are my friends, but actions speak louder than words. That one friend has been my rock. She wasn’t a part of any church. I’m tired of church people. They don’t get it. Most are fake.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Christy – I have to say I agree with you. They don’t get it. Most are fake. The current state of the visible church is pathetic. Pews are filled with unregenerate people and so are the pulpits. If anyone doubts this, just start reading the testimonies of abuse victims and what happened to them in their churches.

  15. Finding Answers

    Anonymous commented “…….Abuse is anything done that shows disregard for the relationship. Ongoing patterns of mind-games, dishonesty, forms of betrayal, callous disregard for spouse’s perspective, being unapproachable for problem-solving, angrily blame-shifting rather than owning mistakes, withholding financial information, neglecting to provide help with parenting needs, having an entitlement spirit that selfishly demands own way, constructing situations to make spouse look crazy, tampering with vehicles … and other gas-lighting type behaviors — these all fall into the category of mental and emotional torture rather than physical blows, but they are still just as much abusive and just as damaging…….”

    ^That.

    I never considered the possibility of physical abuse a relief – but I never comprehended I had spent my entire life in abusive relationships, both personally and professionally.

    From my mid-teens, I have been terrified of physical assault. A sibling took me to an incredibly violent movie, the only time this sibling ever took me to a movie. (Omitting details for protection.)

    To this day, I don’t understand how my brain made the connection between terror and physical assault. Perhaps because my entire family of origin was abusive……..?

    The residual terror remains in the background, a one-time event with long-term consequences.

    I doubt anyone would believe me – even me.

    • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

      Finding answers – I believe you
      And in time the fog will lift as you get your answers. piece by piece you will put the big picture together like in a jigsaw. Some pieces are trickier than others and some you just need to leave to the side until others fit and you see more clearly.

      As I’m reminded often by a distant relative “Rome was not built in a day”
      And I guess rebuilding your life won’t be either but day by day you will get there.

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