Saturday, October 13, 2012

An answer to another comment...

This is the second reply that I have written to this comment.  A lot of inner debate went into deciding to post it.  After I wrote this, I saved it, and went to check out my Facebook newsfeed, and was saddened to see yet another beautiful young person who has fallen in the face of bullying.  My heart breaks with each one of these stories, and I am always reminded of the number of times I was told, mostly by church leaders and lay-leaders, to try harder not to make my husband so angry.  As if I could control what was happening to me.  As if it was mine to own, mine to carry, mine to take responsiblity for.  The sense of hopelessness and self-hatred that follows this kind of advice is soul shattering. 

Then I re-read this comment, this reply, and knew that I have to post it.  We cannot be silent in the face of the hateful idea that victims of abuse deserve what happens to them.  We cannot keep allowing victims to be saddled with responsibilities for the abusive behaviour of others, responsibilities which destroy them from the inside out.  Whether it is in the schoolyards, the workplaces, the main streets or the dining rooms of our country, we must start speaking truth, to those who abuse others as well as those who are being abused.  We must speak hope, to those who abuse as well as the victims of abuse.  There is hope, but it is in truth.  May God give us the courage to speak it.

Today I received this comment, again, anonymously, to my post, "I Will Change Your Name".

"I know your husband, I also know a relationship is a 2 way. Verbally were you always a blessing to him."

 I tried to write an honest reply, but there is no way to completely answer this without exposing my ex-husband in ways that I simply am not willing to do.  As I have said before, I could write for months about my experiences, but I won't. 

Comments like this either reveal a great deal of trust in my care for my ex-husband and my desire to guard his privacy, or they reveal a deep ignorance of our situation and who my ex-husband and I really are. 

So, I will say this.  No, I have not always been a verbal blessing to anyone, and my ex-husband is included in that.  I have had a sharp tongue, and have often spoken here in the blog about it, and how God is helping me learn to speak in love.  I have repented of my hurtful words many times to my ex-husband, both verbally and in writing.  I was told that a wife is always abusive if she ever says anything negative to her husband (regardless of his behaviour) or refuses to completely and unquestioningly obey him, even if she believes that his actions are morally wrong.  I could not accept this.  So my apologies are not considered authentic. 

I will also say that in the course of our marriage, when I began to be successful at not responding to my husband's verbal attacks with harsh words, but learned to walk away, the physical abuse became more aggressive, more violent.  His friends and family considered that I still deserved to be abused, because it was disobedient of me to walk away from his verbal attacks.  Obviously we disagree on this point. 

Yes, I believe marriage is a two way relationship.  I also know that the fervent belief of every abuser is that the victim deserved it.  And yes, I believe that it is a verbal blessing to tell someone who is ruining their own life (and the lives of others, including children) with anger and aggression that they are violent and abusive. 

There is something cold and hard and twisted about the above comment. It says so much more that the words on the page.  It says, rape victim, how short was your skirt?  Murder victim, why were you in the alley?  Sexually abused child, why didn't you tell?  Why didn't you run?  Why do you still call him Daddy? 

It implies that the victim is responsible for the abuse.  Abuse victim, you weren't perfect either.  You deserved what happened to you.  You should have been able to fix it, fix him.  It's all your fault.

The scary thing is, every victim already has thought this on some level.  If I can just keep him from getting angry, if I just do what he says, if I am just good enough, smart enough, quiet enough, perfect enough.

And how much arrogance does it take for another person to look at an abuse victim and say, you just weren't good enough?  Because, Commenter, if you haven't been hit or threatened or had your child frightened, is that because you are better than I am?  You have never spoken a harsh word to your spouse?  Or about your spouse? If you lost your temper at your spouse, he or she has permission to hit you? Threaten to kill you?  Destroy your possessions?  Threaten to seriously harm your child?  Is this what you have taught your children? Have you told your sons that physical abuse is an appropriate punishment for a wife who does not do her husband's bidding? Have you told this to your daughter, that she should obey and keep quiet or expect swift and brutal punishment? 

If none of this has happened to you, how perfect you must be!  Or, maybe your spouse knows that you are both flawed, and he or she would never want to harm you.  Maybe he knows his or her own weaknesses as well, and treats you with grace and care.  Maybe gratitude would be a more appropriate response, rather than pride and arrogance, and distain for others who do not have what you have.

So, yes, I have talked back to my husband. I have been rude to him at times.  There were times when I felt that it was absolutely and morally necessary to disobey him, and I did.  And no, I do not feel that I deserved to be abused.  I believe that my ex-husband was and is capable of more.  I believe and agree with our old pastor and every counsellor that we saw, that he needs help.  I wish, with all my heart, that he could have access to the peace that God has given Grace and I.  At this point, I am more sad for him than I am for myself, as God's healing has been profound.   I pray daily for healing, and for the return of my friend who would never in a million years have tried to harm me.  I know who he is, under all that pain and anger, and he is dear to me.  He always will be.  I fight daily for his healing, not by attacking anyone who dares to notice his flaws (who among us isn't flawed?!) but by prayer, that he would one day know the power and wonder of God's love, and would be free to see himself as he really is, flawed, responsible, and deeply, deeply loved.  I know there is freedom in being honest about our sins before God, because I seei tin my own life. 

And I believe that there are few things as vile as telling someone who is as deeply troubled as my ex-husband that all his problems are someone else's fault.  These words speak death to a troubled soul, and it is wrong, and dangerous.

So, Commenter, I pray for you as well. That you would think about the messages that you are sending to your children, if you have them.  I pray that if you are in an abusive relationship, that you will see that being imperfect does not justify abuse, and that for your own safety, you would protect yourself and your children.  I pray that if you are in contact with my ex-husband, that you would understand that encouraging self-pity and violence and rage will only hurt him more.  I am saddened by the fact that you would read what were meant to be messages of joy and freedom, and that your thoughts would turn to , "she deserved what she got." 

There is so much more to life with God than this!

No comments:

My Zimbio