Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Why I Stayed

40 Comments

October is domestic violence awareness month

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Photo credit:  Ruth

Photo credit: Ruth

love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

I loved him. I believed these verses.  I wanted to live these out even if he did not.  I thought I could love enough for two.  Love was a decision I made every day. Besides, I loved Jesus even more and after all I had been forgiven for – what with nailing him to a cross – how could I not forgive?  Forgive and forget.  So I protected the lie and kept it cloaked in the darkness.

We had watched as his grandparents eclipsed their silver anniversary and sailed on seemingly calm waters into their golden.  I wanted to be a member of that club.  I wanted ’til death do us part.

it was against my religion

Divorce was a dirty word.  In a world where 50% of self-professed believers’ marriages end in divorce I didn’t want to be part of that number.  It was sinful to even think it.  According to scripture there really is no exception.  I felt guilty for even entertaining the thought.

I trusted in every promise of God I could cling to and decided that even if my loyalty brought about my death then I would be a beacon, a martyr, a testament to the sanctity of marriage.  I hid these words in my heart:

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps….Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” 1 Peter 2:18 – 1 Peter 3:6

shame

The first time it happened I thought it was a fluke – a one-off.  The second time I thought it was my fault.  The third time I knew I was in serious trouble.  Serious trouble with no way out.  Not in my mind anyway.  I was ashamed that I had caused this.  I was ashamed that I didn’t see it until it was too late.  I was far too embarrassed to tell anyone. Who could I tell that I made my husband angry enough to do me harm?

By the time I realized that it wasn’t my fault, that I wasn’t causing these temper tantrums, it had gone on far too long.  I was ashamed I’d let it get this far. I was ashamed I had ever allowed it to happen to me.

I was ashamed for my abuser.  I didn’t want anyone to think poorly of him.

I was ashamed for anyone to know my secret.  What would people think?  Would they think that I was stupid? Would they think that I asked for it?  Would they think I was getting what I deserved?

I was weak

Having always been insecure and self-deprecating I found esteem in being the perfect wife.  Not from my abuser, but from my God and from those in the church.  Being a help-meet is what I was created for.  It was noble and prized.

My abuser detected my weaknesses with pinpoint precision and exploited them at every turn.  He knew my propensity to be a people-pleaser and reminded me often that I didn’t want to disappoint him…or God.  Who was I to deny him even the smallest of things as his God-ordained completer?

Having been emotionally tied into knots I saw the belittling as a challenge to be better.  If only I could be better.

i was strong

I have been told that I’m tenacious.  Stubborn is more like.  It can be my greatest strength and my achilles heel.  Like the doctor who continues to compress the chest of a patient whose last breath has long left their lifeless body I continue to attempt resuscitate the deceased.

If I am a failure it won’t be said that it was because I didn’t try.  I think I can, I think I can…no, I know I can fix anything. 

I also have a high pain threshold.  What signals to most people there is something wrong provides me little information.  I have a tendency to tough it out and push through the pain.  I have also been told that if something would hurt my feelings it might draw a blister on a wash pot. I have, myself, made the joke that if you’re trying to hurt my feelings you’d better tell me.

denial – not just a river in egypt

It isn’t that bad.  It doesn’t happen that often.  It could be worse.  He won’t kill me. He isn’t hitting me.  It’s not really abuse if he’s not hitting me.  Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.  All of these are the things that I told myself.  Even when I wasn’t in complete denial I seriously minimized the condition I was in.

___________________________________________________________________

You can find the reasons why I left here:  Why I Left

 

Advertisements

40 thoughts on “Why I Stayed

  1. Who could I tell that I made my husband angry enough to do me harm?

    Oh!! 😦 😦 😦

    I’m so glad you found a way out! 🙂

    Who was I to deny him even the smallest of things as his God-ordained completer?

    WTF? What manipulative bullshit.

    I have also been told that if something would hurt my feelings it might draw a blister on a wash pot. I have, myself, made the joke that if you’re trying to hurt my feelings you’d better tell me.

    Haha–wow!

    Like

    • I’m so glad you found a way out! 🙂

      Me too! 😀

      WTF? What manipulative bullshit.

      I have met the king of manipulative bullshit.

      Haha–wow!

      I know, right?!? My feelings are capable of being hurt. This came about as the result of denying my feelings. The cornerstone of abuse is denial.

      Like

      • Attempting nested blockquotes…

        [Ruth:] I have also been told that if something would hurt my feelings it might draw a blister on a wash pot. I have, myself, made the joke that if you’re trying to hurt my feelings you’d better tell me.

        [Me:] Haha–wow!

        [Ruth:] I know, right?!? My feelings are capable of being hurt. This came about as the result of denying my feelings. The cornerstone of abuse is denial.

        In the first part, I thought you were just saying that you have thick skin–that that was and still is a part of your personality. The second.. I just don’t follow, and it has me wondering if I had understood the first correctly. Care to rephrase/clarify?

        Like

        • Ah, yes. I do still have rather thick skin. It’s just not as thick as it used to be because I’ve been living in a fairly normal situation for a while now. Before it was virtually impossible to hurt my feelings because I denied my own emotions for a very long time.

          Like

  2. I’m so happy that you have found happiness and a partner who truly loves and respects you. I admire you for climbing your way out of that hellhole. I’m so sorry you experienced so much hardship those years. You are an inspiration.

    Like

    • Thanks, Victoria.

      I admire you for climbing your way out of that hellhole.

      Perhaps, and this comment from you brought it out, but confusion would have been another reason why I stayed. Gaslighting does that to a person. It makes them think they are the crazy one.

      The truth is it wasn’t always a hellhole. While I never got the “I’m so sorry, it’ll never happen again” thing, there were honeymoon phases in the intervening periods which I interpreted as love.

      Like

  3. Wow. Powerful. And your selected Biblical passages serve to remind me that the Bible is really just a 2,000 year old book of etiquette, manners, and behavioral guidelines. Some of it is not very relevant in 2014.

    Like

    • And your selected Biblical passages serve to remind me that the Bible is really just a 2,000 year old book of etiquette, manners, and behavioral guidelines.

      Perhaps. For normal people.

      Some of it is not very relevant in 2014.

      Was it relevant 2000 years ago?

      Like

  4. What a great post and am glad you walked out of it.

    Like

  5. This hit really close to home. Thanks for sharing, glad you got out.

    Like

  6. I’m relieved that you escaped that dangerous, destructive relationship. You deserve respect and a safe life.

    Like

  7. Very glad you got out Ruth. Too many don’t make it out. The more that write about it hopefully will reach some who are stuck and encourage them to do the same.

    Like

    • The more that write about it hopefully will reach some who are stuck and encourage them to do the same.

      You know, Howie, I hesitate to write about this anymore because I don’t want it to seem as though I’m dwelling on my past. At the same time I want to be more activist about this subject. It is something that marked me, to be sure. It is part of who I am now, which I hope comes across as a much stronger, self-aware, person.

      Like

  8. We’ve only exchanged comments a few times, so we don’t know each other very well, but I’m glad you got out of that mess. Amen to “atheistic logic”; thumbs down to any belief system that considers women less than men…e.g..a “help-meet”

    Like

  9. Amen to “atheistic logic”; thumbs down to any belief system that considers women less than men…e.g..a “help-meet”

    I was thoroughly convinced that the Biblical design was intended to be a protection for women – all while not being protected. If that’s divine protection I’m better off on my own.

    Like

  10. “I was thoroughly convinced that the Biblical design was intended to be a protection for women.”
    It presents an ideal within prespecified roles, but leaves no room for error or dissent. If both want those roles, and both are really great people, it can work wonderfully. But reality is so many are forced into roles they don’t want, and people can be horrible. And people change. And then if there is no way out… Ugh.

    So glad you made it!

    Like

    • Well, yes, I suppose. Except that submission of either spouse shouldn’t be a compulsion to be obedient, either to the spouse nor a religion. It should be because that is truly what each spouse wants.

      I’ve learned a great deal since those days. Part of what I’ve learned is that being the “head of the house” and “spiritual leader” is a great burden on a great many men. Women are grown ups, not children. As such they shouldn’t especially need a leader. It’s far too much pressure on both spouses to fit into some sort of defined role.

      Like

      • I think i’m still giving the Bible too much benefit of the doubt

        Like

        • Perhaps I’m in no mood to give it any.

          Like

          • Why should you? Had you been living back in the day you would have likely been on the streets with really no other option than to become a prostitute. You were forbidden to remarry. I remember the commotion going on in Rick Warren’s mega Saddleback church — where women were being told that domestic abuse, both emotional and physical were not grounds for divorce. This teaching was posted in the “Bible Questions and Answers” section of the Saddleback Family website (#32, “What should I do when abuse is happening in my marriage?) but has since been taken down because they were exposed.

            Warren:

            “Having been involved as a pastor in situations of abuse, there’s something in me that wishes there were a Bible verse that says if they abuse you in such kind of way, then you have a right to leave them.”

            Warren says “God hates divorce”

            I want to tell you the advice that we give in our counseling ministries. First of all if you are in this kind of a situation, I strongly recommend that you take advantage of our lay counseling ministry. Go in and talk to someone and let them minister to you. And the advice that we give is not divorce but separation.

            He mentions nothing about reporting about to the police, seeking medical attention, or obtaining legal assistance to secure orders of protection for the women or their children. The writer of the article notes:

            “Warren’s views give abusive spouses one more tool to control their victims: the Bible. His teaching undermines the resolve of women who are debating ending an abusive marriage.”

            http://www.thenewagenda.net/2009/01/02/rick-warren-abuse-is-no-excuse-for-women-to-seek-divorce/

            Something many people don’t know. Raised a Christian, Joseph Stalin grew to hate Christianity. He said he watched his mother get beaten over and over by his father, and the church forbid her from getting a divorce.

            Like

          • Yes, I was given much this same advice by the Methodist Pastor we went to. In fact, I was advised not to even separate. Maybe different bedrooms but not different houses.

            From the pulpit our young Baptist Pastor preached that, “Sorry, ladies, abuse is not an acceptable reason for divorce. I wish it were, but it’s not.” In fact before he said it he clapped his hands together and rubbed them. I think he was just so blissfully unaware that 1 in 4 women listening were likely going through this. He didn’t even offer up any advice as to what a woman should do if she found herself in this situation. That sermon played over and over in my head. God hates abuse but he hates divorce even more. Do whatever you like to your partner as long as you stay married until the cold, clammy, hand of death do you part.

            In the hands of an abuser the Bible is but a weapon.

            Like

          • “In the hands of an abuser the Bible is but a weapon.”

            Truer words have never been spoken. I remember the counsel I got after my partner died. I was told I couldn’t marry someone who had been divorced. You know, I was in my late 20’s at the time, and most men around my age were already married or in a committed relationship.

            Let’s just say, I didn’t remarry for a very long time because of this archaic rule, and when I did, I married a widower. I get so pissed at myself for falling for this BS, but then have to remind myself about how easy our mind/brain can be manipulated, programmed and controlled if we are not aware or taught critical thinking skills.

            Like

          • I get so pissed at myself for falling for this BS…

            I do, too. I’ve been far more angry at myself than I ever was at him.

            Like

          • Just another bit: A lay counselor has no business counseling abuse victims. They are sorely equipped to deal with the dynamics, IMHO.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Nor should you be.

            I’m coming at de-conversion from such a different place than so many others. On the inside, its rare to hear stories like yours because no one talks about them. So I spent a long time viewing “Christian marriage” as a good model, and seeing what appeared on the outside to be good marriages. But when all the crap is just covered up, of course it looks good! I was just fortunate to not have personally experienced the crap.

            I hope what I said didn’t come across as excusing anyone or Christianity for anything. I apologize if it did. One of the things I love so much about de-conversion is the freedom I now feel to ask questions and explore and learn. Part of that is trying to figure out which parts of my old life are OK to hold on to, and which are not. Thanks for your patience as I process and learn. I have a lot to learn.

            Like

          • Nothing to apologize for, Charles. I’m glad that you experienced these teachings and the application of them in a positive way. And while 1 in 4 women are the recipients of DV, that means that 3 of 4 are not. Seventy-five percent of the church population would likely agree that this isn’t a harmful teaching because unless you experience the crap it isn’t likely to occur to you. Especially given that what you said about the cover-up is true. I went 19.5 years that I never uttered a negative word about my spouse. I never called the police. When other women complained about their husbands’ socks strewn on the floor I would shake my head. I thought it was sinful to speak of my spouse in a negative light. I wanted to be and, if I might toot my own horn a bit, was as close to a Proverbs 31 woman as I think you can get. My husband was esteemed at the city gates. He still is. I still haven’t shouted this from the rooftops. Most people, other than a hand-picked number, think I was the demon since I initiated the divorce. While he went around telling anyone who would listen that he was sure I was having an affair I kept my lips sealed. I still didn’t want to ruin his reputation. *shrug* I was intent on keeping my integrity.

            Like

          • Thanks, Ruth.
            Wow. Your story. I’m so sorry I was part of the propagation of the rigid and stupid dogma that kept you trapped for so long.

            Like

          • You know, Charles, I appreciate that sentiment. But truly there is nothing for you to be sorry for. It worked/works for you. Fact of the matter is I’ve found it very difficult to be angry or hold a grudge against anyone other than my spouse and myself. My pastor and the minister we counseled with truly believe those things. They’re not trying to keep women trapped, they’re trying to save their souls. And they really believe that they are. I’d be angry if I found out they really don’t believe it but they’re intentionally propagating an oppressive system just because they can. I truly do believe that sometimes all the sense of “power” that is imbued to men in scripture is a burden. Sure, there are in that number who enjoy the power trip. But the average, normal(whatever that is), male is saddled with a lot of responsibility.

            Liked by 1 person

          • “Sure, there are in that number who enjoy the power trip. But the average, normal(whatever that is), male is saddled with a lot of responsibility.”

            As are women. I think it’s important to not minimizes the roles/responsibility women have in a Christian environment. I was married to “godly” men and I can attest that I was far more burdened and saddled with more responsibility as a married woman I was as a single mother who wore many hats. In fact, there was no such thing as sabbath rest when I was married to believers.

            That is not to dis men in any way. But I did not have the luxury of being waited on after a hard day’s work. I was there to serve my partner. I was told that I was created for him, to meet his needs.

            I have no doubt that Charles was/is a good partner to his spouse and children, and certainly responsible. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, and I can attest that as as a married woman, I had more responsibility than my partners did. Being married to a bible-believing Christian was exhausting both mentally and physically.

            Like

          • I hope my comment wasn’t misconstrued as to say that women had no responsibility. I absolutely had a lot of responsibility as my husband’s help-meet. Believe you me, he delegated very well. He took that shit to heart. But then again, I was married to one of those who enjoyed the power-trip of it all.

            For many men, though, and all you have to do is read some of the stories of ex-quiverfull men to understand what I’m saying. For a great many men being the “spiritual leader” and the “bread winner” for the family just isn’t what they’re naturally “gifted” to do. Yet the environment they’ve grown up in tells them that this is exactly the mold they should shoe-horn themselves into. I’m not minimizing women’s responsibilities. I’m just recognizing that there is another side of the coin.

            Like

          • “For a great many men being the “spiritual leader” and the “bread winner” for the family just isn’t what they’re naturally “gifted” to do.”

            I agree, and I have read many stories of ex-quiverfull men (which aren’t that much different than any other culture with nearly similar gender role expectations, as Vycky Garrison stated in one of her recent articles that went viral. The burden was fear of retribution and ultimately hell if you didn’t follow those gender role rules.

            Like

  11. Amen. Been there. Can’t wait to read your whole story.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s