I’m running through a couple of final edits on the next book, The Judas Tree, and while I’ve spent a lot of time talking about techniques and so on, what I haven’t talked about is an epidemic in America and, for that matter, the world.
This is the subject of spousal abuse. While I approach it in the novel from the point of view of a man beating his female partner, it’s not contained to just that demographic. A woman can beat a man, a man can beat a man, and so on.
As a police officer, I spent more than a little time handling these. Also, as a police officer, it’s the single most dangerous place you can be. It’s not uncommon if you have to arrest the abuser, for the victim to turn on you. I know, it sounds odd, but it’s true. If you’re going to be injured or killed as a police officers, there’s a high probability it will happen at a domestic.
It’s also something that’s virtually ignored by the media, the government, and so on. If people were to really stop and think about the epidemic of spousal abuse, there would be a huge outcry for something to be done. We’d see legislation on the state and federal level being pushed through.
Problem is, new laws aren’t the answer.
Spousal abuse almost plays out one of four ways.
Scenario 1 – After years of abuse, the husband stops (assuming it’s the guy) doing it. The reason? Simple. He’s killed his partner. At that point, we bury the partner and arrest the abuser and toss him in prison for the rest of his life.
Scenario 2 – It’s almost as bad as Scenario 1, but in this case the victim, tired of being a punching bag, kills the abuser. In some cases, the victim has been able to declare self defense, or temporary insanity. If the pattern of abuse has been well documented by the police, the victim might have a shot at that. But in some cases, we know nothing about the abuse, and she goes to prison.
Scenario 3 – Ultimate control on this planet has always been one thing, and that’s the manipulation and control of minds. Abusers are masters of this.
They arrange it so nothing is said, and even if it does, then the victim lied, or worse, it’s their fault. You’d be surprised at how many abused women think it’s their fault. Why? The man tells them it is. Here’s an example, “It just drives me crazy when you <Insert excuse here>.”
The abuser will swear on a shipload of Bibles that it will never happen again.
But it does.
In this scenario, the police rarely know anything about the abuse. Why? Because nothing is ever said. The abused, in the time honored tradition of so many before, covers the bruises with sun glasses, makeup, and goes out into the world pretending nothing ever happened and no one knows.
Trouble is, everyone knows, only nothing is ever said. If you were to talk to friends and neighbors, they might know something, but again, nothing is said.
Now a couple of the legal things here is as follows. First, if the woman were to show up at the doctor and the doctors suspects physical abuse, they are obligated to report it to the police and social services. Same applies to counselors, clergy, and so on. This part usually works pretty well.
Now, here’s where things fall apart in this scenario. We send a detective or a social worker out to look into the matter. This is what we get. “Me abused by my (insert title here)? That absurd. I just fell!” And no amount of talking is going to get them to change their story.
One word. “FEAR.” The victim is so frightened of the abuser they’ll say anything.
That works into the other reason. Let’s assume the police arrest the abuser.
It’s not unheard of for the victim to contact the courts and want to drop the charges. This almost always happens because the DA knows he just lost his witness. Could they push it? Yes, they could. But here’s how that plays out. They get the woman on the stand, and her answer is “I fell l down the stairs.”
The other thing that happens here is takes him back because “she loves him.” The unfortunate truth here is that this is a form or brainwashing. The abuser has done such a good job of tearing down that persons self-worth that they see themselves as only having value with that person.
The woman might even think she brought it on herself which is a lie that the abuser planted in her mind.
This scenario is characterized by a single sad truth. Victim and abuser live unhappily ever after. They have kids raised to think this is normal. The kids grow up, they abuse their partners or think it’s OK to be abused, and they in turn have kids.
And so it goes.
So, how does the victim get away from the abuser? That’s tied in the final scenario.
Scenario 4 – The victim tells the abuser to boldly go, and stays as far away from that person as they can.
Now, here’s what that person needs to stay away. Lot’s of support. This comes from family, friends, and so on. The victim needs a restraining order against the abuser, and needs to let people know. Part of the power of the abuser is the abuse is almost always done in secret. Once it’s out in the open, their power is cut off at the knees.
The other part is on the victim. They need to be sick and tired of being sick and tired. They need to stick to their guns on this, or the cycle will simply start all over again.
Scenario 4 is the hardest part, and can be very dangerous. The abuser, seeing he (assuming it’s a he) has lost control over the victim, and could kill the person being abused.
If you’re in this situation, you need to decide to get out from under the thumb of an abuser. If you do, get help. Lots of it. Get friends around you to help you move, have the police there (or at least on speed dial), and a deputy to serve that person a restraining order. Don’t go solo on this.
Again, it you’re getting out of an abusive relationship, this is a very dangerous time for you. Be aware of that.
The abuser will try often something when the victim is leaving. As a police officer, my response was easy. Take the guy down, cuff him, and haul him to jail. As a civilian and friend that option is off the table. If we’re getting a woman out, I get the police with me, and I’m ready to defend myself or those around me. And yes, I’ve stood between him and her on a couple of occasions.
Now, let’s talk about the abuser. What’s odd is a lot of times, the abuser isn’t a “bad” person. They might hold a job, they take out the trash, and they pay their taxes. Their problem is one of control. Someplace, somewhere, they feel their partner has to submit to their will.
I actually had a guy try to pull the Biblical precedent that states, “Wives, submit to your husbands.” The word “submit” is a bad choice of words. A better term is one I find in other translations, words like “respect” or “honor.” That changes the meaning completely of the verse. I gave him a different version. He preferred the word “submit” and I then asked him since when submission came with a fist? That’s what happens in war, not a marriage.
I then asked him if he’d ever bothered reading what Paul said about a man loving his wife liked Christ loved the Church.
Truth is, too many times, marriages are a war zone. If you’re just in the arguing stage, get some help. It goes physical, get out.
If you haven’t figured it out, I get a little emotional about this issue. I’ve picked up the pieces too many times on spousal abuse, and it isn’t pretty. It’s tough on everyone involved.
So, let me get this off my chest. I have absolutely no use for a man who abuses a woman. Before my sons-in-law were allowed to marry my daughters, I explained the facts of life to them. I gave each a sermon from one of the lost books of the Bible, in this case, the Book of Threats and Promises. The part goes, “Lay a hand on her, cheat on her, run out on her, and I will bury you right next to Jimmy Hoffa. I will erase you so completely, even God will swear you never happened.”
My job as a parent isn’t to be a friend to my children. My job is to protect them. I checked each one of their perspective spouses out to include talking to Law Enforcement, their ministers, and such. Today, I’d be looking at Facebook.
Even though my daughters are out of the house, that’s still true. I turned my son-in-laws loose with one of the most precious things in my universe, and they will treat her right.
And I mean every word of it.
Okay, back to this. Abuse, if you haven’t figured it out, is often times a learned thing. It’s generational. The son sees dad abuse mom. It becomes programmed in that this normal.
The daughter sees dad abuse mom. She thinks this is how things are and marries a man just like dear old dad who knocks the tar out of her every change of the moon.
Fathers, your sons will grow up just like you. Or your daughters will wed a man like you. If you’re a poor excuse for a man, and you think it’s OK to knock your partner around, guess what. You just passed it on down the line.
Can this cycle be broken? Yes, it can, but laws won’t do it. What it takes is a commitment by the abuser to change. You have to do the work, and that’s hard because it’s will bring you face to face with yourself.
And what you need is a standard, and not one given by the abusive parent.
My standard is the Word of God. Paul wrote, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” This comes from Ephesians 5:25-33. That entire thing is your standard. And if you have problems loving your spouse or partner by that standard, then look in the mirror. You hate yourself. You just don’t know it yet.
That’s a high standard.
Are you up for it?
If you’re an abuser. Do the the work. And don’t expect life to go merrily along. If you’re forgiven, settle for that, and don’t do it again. Don’t expect her to come crawling back to you.
If you’re the one being abused. Run fast and run far. You’ll also need to do the work. You’re going to have a lot to put behind you. And look for someone better, someone who will treasure you.
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