A Cry For Justice

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

I was bitten by a dog — a guest post by Still Scared But Getting Angry

I am a dyed-in-wool animal lover. I have always loved animals and never been afraid of them.

My dad and uncle, who had done some pre-vet studies in college and worked around animals had taught me well how to be around dogs, approach them safely, train them, etc. I volunteer with an animal rescue organization and even the first year after my separation earned most of my living by walking dogs and feeding cats.

Two years ago as I was getting back into visiting nursing. I was walking up to a patientʼs house and their dog came running around the house barking. I wasnʼt scared, I kept walking ignoring the dog, not recognizing the potential threat. The dog came to a stop by me and bit my leg. I was flabbergasted! I paused for a second then started to scream, hoping the family would hear and help. I tried swinging my nursing bag over the dogʼs head to frighten it. I did not even conceive of hitting the dog; because one should never strike an animal.

Finally a family member of my patient came out and got the dog to release me and took him away. I carried on with my visit, that is what you do professionally, and drove away then started to shake. Short term I had a horrible bruise, long term; me, who has never been afraid of any animal finds myself nervous around new dogs and ever so careful to put protection between them and myself. Now, I would swing my heavy nursing bag right at a dog that attempted to bite me.

I was thinking about this and some parallels between my dog bite and my recovery for the 17 years of being married to an abuser. I did everything “right” when I married my now ex-husband. I made sure he was a “christian”, we got pre-marital counseling, we went to church together. All that I knew to do, I did. When I realized about the abuse that I had allowed to go on and on for years, I was flabbergasted. I started with small cries of help to my pastor and lay counselor And at first that didnʼt work. Louder “screams”( telling more people) didnʼt work either. Swinging my bag; putting up barriers about his access to the house, how to contact me, returning gifts, didnʼt work. Finally he invaded my house and I had to call 911, like the family member who came and saw the actual biting taking place.

And now… now I want to believe there are good guys out there. I have friends married to some awesome men who care for them and their kids and donʼt put on the false front and demand control. But I donʼt trust my ability to know anymore. I want to regain the confidence and friendliness I had before but I am defensive and cautious all because I was bitten.

19 Comments

  1. Except in this case, you were bitten repeatedly for 17 years while everyone around you swore you weren’t.

    Enough to make St. Francis skittish 🙂

  2. Fullofjoy

    Good analogy and post! Interestingly, I used a similar analogy when I was trying to explain how afraid I was of my (then) husband to the nouthetic counselor that we were seeing at the time. He told me that I was “in sin” for being fearful of my husband and I tried to explain (in an email to him, *not* with my husband present!) how I felt like this: What if you had a dog that was nice much of the time, but could, with seemingly no provocation, become a vicious, mauling dog? I loved that dog and was always kind to him, but had become quite fearful of him. Is it “sin” to be fearful in that situation, or is it self-preservation? The counselor didn’t agree with me, or wasn’t able to see things from my perspective, but I can only guess that is because he has never been bitten (repeatedly!).

    And yes, even now after being “out” for a year and a half, I struggle mightily with feeling like every male is a potential threat. Intellectually, I am pretty sure that there are nice men out there, but am having a very hard time even talking to men right now. 😦

    • Brenda R

      Joyful,
      My pastor, in a recent sermon, said that being afraid is not trusting God or being close to God. I see scripture where David admits to being afraid, so we don’t agree on this topic. Being afraid can be an indicator of potential danger. I have been away from the mad dog for a year. I am still discovering who I am. I don’t want to add another person to that. I know there are men who can be trusted, but who are they? I don’t want to find out that the nice loving man, bites. I believe God expects us to save our lives if we have the opportunity.

    • Still Scared( but getting angry)

      I was told repeatedly that I was in sin to be afraid…the number of times I heard quoted “perfect love casts out fear”. I have since learned what I knew in my gut, fear is an emotion that you cannot control when you get it, only your response and healthy fear, you should listen to!

  3. Anonymous

    Speechless … Barbara, you summed it up, “I want to regain the confidence and friendliness I had before but I am defensive and cautious all because I was bitten.”

    • I don’t deserve the praise for those words, it was Still Scared who wrote them. 🙂

      • Anonymous

        Sorry about that:-) … well then, Thank you Barbara for posting Still Scared But Getting Angry’s words.
        Still Scared – Any victim who has encountered a ‘dog attack’ will identify with your story. The short term and long term analogy and the swinging of the purse in order to protect yourself from further attacks serves to illustrate why so many victims appear ‘so defensive’ – it’s the protective shield!

  4. Jeff Crippen

    SS- As you probably know, the abuser scene for me has been in the church. Entitlement, control, power – using all the tactics against me because I was the pastor and they had to control me for their own self-glory. I tried all the tricks too. For 30 years. Then it was wakeup time and the lights went on. Now we are in recovery mode – like you. Our church is smaller, and wiser. We are going through 2 Corinthians together and learning what it means when the Apostle Paul exhorts us to “open our hearts wide to one another” and to “not be restrained in our affections for one another.” It’s all tied up in giving ourselves to Christ and being in a fellowship where we can hear His Word and experience His comfort and encouragement through other real sheep. The thing is, well, rather new to us. We didn’t know it all these years, but the abusers kept us in hiding. They infected the atmosphere with distrust. And that short-circuits our ability to hear and know God’s Word and to experience the love of Christ. We want to regain our confidence and friendliness too, just like you. But also like you, we are progressing slowly, with more wisdom and discernment. And that’s ok.

    • Anonymous

      Haven’t had time to read the full transcript of C H Spurgeon’s “The church — conservative and aggressive”, however the devotional transcript and Scripture references seem appropriate to Pastor Crippen’s study for 2 Corinthians. There are many animals – beware!http://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/spurgeon-365-2/ http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols7-9/chs393.pdf

    • Still Scared( but getting angry)

      Yes, not knowing you were in hiding. knowing something was wrong but not what. Praying for continued healing and growth of your church.

  5. joepote01

    A very good analogy, SS!

    The wisdom gained by experience is invaluable…none of us would really want to go back to being innocently naive in a fallen world containing much evil.

    Yet, we can’t help sometimes wishing the world really was as simple and innocent as we once believed it to be…

    Of course, in the final analysis, what we long for will only be fully realized in the next life…in Heaven…the New Earth and/or the New Jerusalem…

    And yet, there is still so much of God’s goodness right here in this life…so much to be thankful for as we learn to trust Him…trust His love…trust His grace…trust His faithfulness…

    And, yes, to the extent that His followers reflect His glory, we too can be trusted…but it is a more cautiously guarded trust than when we were blissfully ignorant of potential danger…

    Blessings to you!

    • Hi Joe, nice to hear from your again. I was wondering what had happened to you. Hope you’re okay.

    • Anonymous

      Very thoughtful comment, Joe, Thank you.

      • joepote01

        🙂

  6. Brenda R

    Great comparison.

    I donʼt trust my ability to know anymore. I want to regain the confidence and friendliness I had before but I am defensive and cautious all because I was bitten.

    I can relate. My daughter says if I ever do think about getting serious about another man she will be checking him out thoroughly first. I have been bitten too many times. I am a magnet for abusive men. If there is one within 5 miles, and I am sure there are more than that in a 5 mile radius, they will find me. I think I must repel good men. Obviously I have no confidence in this area, so I think I will just leave it alone.

  7. Isaiah40:31

    After being in 2 abusive marriages (first one was 2 years, second one 21years), I understand about the fears and distrust. I feel the same. But Pastor Crippen’s words are wise! Thank you Pastor for that encouragement.

  8. Yep.

    • Jeff Crippen

      In some ways, the analogy of rabies must certainly apply here too! Too bad there isn’t a vaccination for abuse.

      • Brenda R

        The only one with the vaccine is Jesus and the dog has to want the shot.

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