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Battered and Raped in the Name of God: Fundamental Christians Condone Crimes against Women & ChildrenCoral Anika Theill Salem-News.com
Domestic violence is a complex problem with roots in an oppressively hierarchical, patriarchal violence-accepting society. Part 5 of 6
(SALEM) - My physicians and counselors have accurately described my twenty year marriage as a prison, or sweat shop. I have stated to counselors that within the confines of my marriage I lived more or less like a legalized prostitute. Instead of cash, I was given shelter and food. Batterer’s objectify women. They do not see them as people. Overall, they see women as property or sexual objects.
Some people have wondered what was "wrong" with me. Why did I stay so long in such an unhealthy and abusive environment? My answer is simple. Abuse and trauma leave an individual in a state of numbness - you become the walking dead. When you are numb, you are not in a state of mind to be planning an escape. You think about how to survive the next day or you think about death and suicide. It is as if you are a soul neither dead nor alive wandering in a half-world seeking redemption without hope of ever finding it.
While living with abusers, hope is not within reach.
Today, I am appalled when I realize the desperation I felt to appease my husband, Mr. Marty Warner, during our marriage. My physicians and counselors have since shared with me the traits of "Stockholm Syndrome." Many aspects of my life were out of my control.
When people have been abused or used up by others, it is difficult to find your balance and center. Our energy has been exploited and we continue to give ourselves away. Our abusers convince us through manipulation and lies that we are under an obligation to be abused and used.
For recovery to begin, abuse victims must create a safe environment. Without freedom, there is no safety or recovery. Safety for many survivors is often at a great cost. Battered women may lose their babies and children, their homes, their friends and their livelihood. Survivors of childhood abuse will often even lose their families. Rarely does society recognize the dimensions and long lasting effects of this reality for the victim.
I care about and advocate for individuals who have fallen through the judicial cracks of America, i.e, the disabled and mentally ill, juveniles, homeless, veterans, prisoners, the elderly and victims of incest, rape and domestic violence. I have learned that if you really want to know about our justice system in America, you do not question the judges, police, attorneys and lawmakers, you go to the victims, the unprotected, the vulnerable; those who need the laws protection the most and listen to their stories.
Psychological studies have determined that many individuals have Stockholm Syndrome to varying degrees. It has happened to concentration camp prisoners, cult members, pimp-procured prostitutes, incest victims, physically and/or emotionally abused children, battered women, hostages and prisoners of war.
“Victims have to concentrate on survival, requiring avoidance of direct, honest reaction to destructive treatment. Become highly attuned to pleasure and displeasure reactions of victimizers. As a result, victims know much about captors, less about themselves. Victims are encouraged to develop psychological characteristics pleasing to captors: dependency, lack of initiative, inability to act, decide, think, etc. Both actively develop strategies for staying alive, including denial, attentiveness to victimizer’s wants, fondness for victimizer accompanied by fear, fear of interference by authorities, and adoption of victimizer’s perspective. Hostages are overwhelmingly grateful to terrorists for giving them life. They focus on captor’s kindnesses, not his acts of brutality.
“Battered women assume that the abuser is a good man whose actions stem from problems that she can help him solve. Both feel fear, as well as love, compassion and empathy toward a captor who has shown them any kindness. Any acts of kindness by the captors will help ease the emotional distress they have created and will set the stage for emotional dependency of Counterproductive Victim Responses.” - The Stockholm Syndrome: Not Just For Hostages,
During the years of our marriage Mr. Warner instructed me in what kind of clothes I could wear, how to style my hair, whether I could wear make-up or not, when and what I could eat or drink. Even body functions were monitored. His comments toward me were insulting and demeaning. I couldn’t do anything right, in his eyes.
I was not allowed to speak alone with doctors or seek help “outside” my husband’s approved fundamental legalistic Christian counselors. Why? I believe the reason why Christian religious leaders, counselors and husbands fear women seeking help outside their religious supervision and structure is because counselors and shelters that assist battered women “will put ideas in her head.”
They will teach her that she doesn’t deserve to be beaten, that she is a worthwhile person, that she is capable, competent and intelligent, that she can think for herself, that she can do things for herself, that she has the right to come and go as she pleases, that she has power over her own life, that she can use her power to take good care of herself, that she deserves to be happy and safe, that she should be able to visit with friends and relatives when she wishes to do so, that she is not the cause of another’s violent and abusive behavior and that she has the right to live a life that is FREE FROM VIOLENCE AND ABUSE.
These are not bad ideas. These ideas were truths she understood when she was born, they were already in her head - they were just waiting until she was safe enough to think them.
Knee Deep in Water and Dying of Thirst
While I was ill from 1993-1994, I learned that most of the Christian community we were involved with did not believe that a Christian could have a physical/mental breakdown. Mr. Warner took me to several fundamentalist groups and counselors during my illness. He and his religious supporters believed that psychology was in error to the Word of God. They exorcised me for being a witch and said I had a jezebel spirit. Mr. Warner's counselors could not understand or help me.
My breakdown was a place of honesty. I recall when I was ill, I told Mr. Warner's counselors that I was a whore and that I wanted to live on the streets. My mind was voicing how I felt about myself based on how I had been treated by my husband. We met with many unlicensed Christian "counselors" and they believed my husband because he is so convincing. I came to understand the saying, "knee deep in water and dying of thirst."
More than anything, I wanted to be safe and permanently free from my husband, his mother and his religious supporters. It was hard to be "helped" because I was not allowed to tell the truth. It was difficult to "act right" during this time because my basic instincts and intuition had been forcibly cut away through years of abuse. I was frightened while I was ill because I did not have the strength or stamina to work harder and faster for my husband. The juggling act and the mask I had worn to get by my whole life was slipping.
When you live with people who are existential vacuums, they use you up. I tried to draw from the place I went to when I was exhausted, but there was nothing left. I felt like an empty cistern in great need of refilling. While living with an abusive partner or parent you carry an enormous amount of guilt because you can never get it "right" or perfect for them. You run faster, but it is never fast enough.
I longed to talk to someone who could truly understand or help me. I didn't know yet what it felt like, but what I truly longed for was humane treatment and compassion.
Emotionally and physically I was numb, like coming out of anesthesia after surgery. You can see and hear everyone, but you are under a blanket or a fog, not quite here. I hated the feeling.
Psychiatrist R.D. Laing shares that when we invalidate people or deny their perceptions and personal experiences, we make mental invalids of them. He found that when one's feelings are denied a person can be made to feel crazy even when they are perfectly mentally healthy. There is significant research to support the idea that emotional invalidation significantly predicted psychological distress, including depression and anxiety symptoms.
Evangelical Churches – No Divorce Policy
Battered wives who seek help or advice from clergy members are often told that they bring abuse on themselves by refusing to submit to their husband.
Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, through their doctrine, “divorce is only permitted in cases of adultery or abandonment -- as these are the only cases permitted in the Bible -- and never for abuse,” promotes the centrality of male authority. Mainstream evangelical culture believes male authority can still be maintained in a controlled separation but is seriously threatened when a woman is given leeway of any kind, for whatever reason, in ceasing to submit to an abusive husband by divorcing him.
Debi Pearl, half of a husband-and-wife fundamentalist child-training ministry as well as author of the bestselling submission manual, Created to Be His Help Meet, writes that submission is so essential to God’s plan, that it must be followed even to the point of allowing abuse. “When God puts you in subjection to a man whom he knows is going to cause you to suffer,” she writes, “it is with the understanding that you are obeying God by enduring the wrongful suffering.” 2
Teachings of Jesus: Compassion and Unconditional Love
Progressive Christians believe in the teachings of Jesus – a message that speaks about love, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, non-judgment, helping the unfortunate and living nonviolently. They believe Jesus’ teachings contains nothing misogynistic, homophobic, nor do they condemn divorce, contraception and abortion. Progressive Christians are "pro-life," in contrast; legalistic fundamental Christians are merely "pro-birth” - hypocritical fraudsters.
Fundamentalist Christians have a very literal and legalistic interpretation of the Bible. They believe that the Bible was written by God, and that all of the genocide, war, slavery, misogyny, homophobia and other loathsome things were authorized by the Almighty, which accounts for their political beliefs. They use prayer for selfish and narcissistic purposes . It is steeped in sanctimonious piety and a total sense of superior existence. From football to indicting weather events as the will of God, these people are devoutly delusional.
Progressive Christians, on the other hand, have a different perspective regarding the beliefs about the Bible. They see the Bible as what it is - a set of documents written, edited, translated and selected by humans. Prayer is more about a spirit of gratitude and often inspires acts of generosity toward others
Legalistic fundamental Christians many times are small minded, prejudiced and excessively insular. They often pass their prejudices onto their children. Some, who are in positions of power, impose narrow views on us all, causing wars and political strife. The worst part is these people have fierce motivation and they are not going away. Dominists http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
The late Francis Schaeffer, Sr., Jerry Falwell, and Rousas John Rushdoony are a few of the Christian leaders who promoted the Christian Dominist and Theonomy movement. Christian Dominists such as Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Rick Santorum, and Pat Robertson believe that the United States should be "one nation under God," with the Bible and their beliefs trumping existing law and the Constitution - America’s version of the Taliban.
Pat Robertson suggests beating wives as punishment for disobeying her husband. http://www.upworthy.com/pat-
Dominist and legalistic Christians, “The Tea Party”, John Birch society and others manipulate their religious members to stop worrying about poverty, compassion, helping the downtrodden and injustices and rather focus on politically marginal issues like homosexuality, contraceptives and abortion. They want the public to be sex-obsessed, rather than learn about and discuss real political issues. Fighting women’s rights is more important to fundamental Christians and the Pope than stopping pedophilia, and greed.
so well what God wants them to
do because I notice it always
coincides with their own desires."
- Susan B. Anthony
Thirty years ago, Rushdoony shared his views with Frank Schaeffer, Jr., “We must establish God's kingdom by degrees. We can't start by saying that God demands that we put homosexuals to death! We need to begin with things like helping form home schools and electing our people. Someday we'll be in a position to establish biblical law in America."
Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family, is perhaps one of the most powerful figures in the Dominist movement. Fr. Governor Sarah Palin is living proof that a female misogynist can exist - someone that doesn't want other women to think for themselves, but wants them to think as she does.
America was founded on principles of greed, religious intolerance and slavery. Christians like to rethink the reality to make it sound better but the Pilgrims came here because they were "better" than the fallen masses of Britain and Europe. Instead, they created a land where women and children had no rights, where people could be bought and sold and where blacks were only partially human. Four hundred years later things are still pretty backward. As a society, we are slow to look at our own mirrors and shadows. (2)
The fundamental Christian conservatives want to “take us back to the good ole days.”
Americans eliminated tens of millions of Native Americans so effectively that Adolf Hitler himself modeled the Holocaust over it.
In the late 1690’s the Christian Church revived witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, instigating a reign of terror on women. Many believe this widespread church and state-sanctioned torture and killing of “witches” set the stage for modern society’s acceptance of violence against women. Burning Times Film Documentary http://www.nfb.ca/film/
America, where the Ku Klux Klan was formed and African-Americans were subjected to lynching, racism and Jim Crow Laws in their communities without the protection of the government. We, a Christian nation, imprisoned Japanese American citizens over pathetic levels of racism during WWII.
Jeff Sharlet exposes the far right conservatives and the “elite” fundamental Christian establishment in society in his book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. In public, they host Prayer Breakfasts; in private, they preach a gospel of "biblical capitalism," military might, and American empire. Citing Hitler, Lenin, and Mao as leadership models, the Family's current leader, Doug Coe, declares, "We work with power where we can, build new power where we can't."
Sharlet's discoveries dramatically challenge conventional wisdom about American fundamentalism, revealing its crucial role in the unraveling of the New Deal, the waging of the cold war, and the no-holds-barred economics of globalization. The question Sharlet believes we must ask is not "What do fundamentalists want?" but "What have they already done?"
Part history, part investigative journalism, The Family is a compelling account of how fundamentalism came to be interwoven with American power, a story that stretches from the religious revivals that have shaken this nation from its beginning to fundamentalism's new frontiers. No other book about the right has exposed the Family or revealed its far-reaching impact on democracy, and no future reckoning of American fundamentalism will be able to ignore it.
Domestic Violence is Encouraged & Condoned by Christian Leaders
Judith Herman, http://www.jimhopper.com/
I will always treasure the memories and joys of motherhood. Being abused by my husband, his cults and their leaders, and enduring violence, is not a part of God's marriage covenant. I believe when there is violence and cruelty; the marriage covenant is permanently severed. Mr. Warner, at the time of our divorce and to date, found his support from family members, the community, the judicial system, and pastors, elders and church members at Bridgeport Community Church, Their church doctrine did not believe I had a right to divorce. Crimes of violence are supposed to be endured. It disturbs me that many Christians cannot find compassion in their hearts for victims of violence (women and children), due to their strict adherence to church theology.
I believe that domestic violence is a crime. It is a complex problem with roots in an oppressively hierarchical, patriarchal violence-accepting society. The fundamental evangelical Christian movements (cults) that thrive today refuse to speak out against domestic violence, rape, incest and abuse because their doctrines are the foundation for conditioning women and children to accept abuse.
Women and children are taught shame, fear and guilt and that patriarchal hierarchy must be lived out in the homes. Patriarchal religion has proven to be devastating for women around the world. External oppression of a people leads to internal oppression.
There is a point at which behavior becomes predatory and malicious - a point at which one is morally obligated to separate themselves from that person.
Recommended Reading and Documentaries:
1 The Burning Times – The National Film Board of Canada, 1990, Donna Read http://www.nfb.ca/film/
2 Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of “Sex, Mom and God,” and “Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back.”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
Biblical Battered Wife Syndrome: Christian Women and Domestic Violence
Listen to Coral Theill’s guest appearance on the “Abuse Freedom Live” Radio Program, August 19, 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Other articles in this series:
Coral Theill’s Military Articles at Salem-News.com: link
Coral Anika Theill, reporter and advocate, is author of "BONSHEA: Making Light of the Dark." Her published works address abuse, trauma recovery and healing from post-traumatic stress and most recently, wounded Marines, the Warrior Games and Montford Point Marines. Her writings have encouraged and inspired numerous trauma victims and wounded Marines/soldiers recovering from PTS and TBI. Coral's positive insights as a survivor have also earned the respect of clinical therapists, advocates, attorneys, professors and authors. BONSHEA has been used as a college text for nursing students at Linfield College, Portland, Oregon and can be ordered at: http://amazon.com, http://barnesandnoble.com or http://iUniverse.com
"Those who serve may already know the toll of having to kill or be killed, but civilian society should also recognize that those who go into battle defending our way of life pay a price. I feel a deep gratitude to our servicemen and women and believe our society needs to do more to respect, understand and support those returning from deployment in conflict zones.” – Coral Anika Theill, Contributing Writer for Leatherneck Magazine
The Commandant of the Marine Corps on Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury and Invisible Battle Scars: Confronting the Stigma of PTS and TBI http://www.
Articles for October 8, 2012 | Articles for October 9, 2012 | Articles for October 10, 2012
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