The overt abuse began the day we got married. The wedding was wonderful. I was so excited, so happy. As we drove away to our honeymoon, two Bible College students having just pledged to the Lord their love for one another, I had stars in my eyes.
Then my new husband reached over and put his hand on my breast. Not fondling, not foreplay, just putting it there firmly, eyes still on the road, much like a robot.
I left it there for a few seconds, stunned, and then tried to gently push it off. He pushed back, and held it tightly, right where he’d put it, firmly on my body. I pushed back harder, but Mark’s large muscles were stronger than mine. I felt like I was going to throw up. I told him to stop, but he said, “But I can. I can do it now. We’re married, so it’s okay. It’s not sin.”
He kept saying that over again, while firmly resisting my attempts to move his arm. I wanted to scream, or cry, or just turn the car around and take the vows back. But my heart sunk as I realized, “Oh my god. I’m his wife. He can do this. It’s allowed now…” Shades of my own childhood…a world where wives submit to their husbands in everything. Wives don’t even have rights over their own body. These sick ideas from my fundamentalist childhood about the roles of men and women were at the forefront of my mind as I realized that I had to let him do as he would with me, as long as it wasn’t sin… So we drove on towards our honeymoon, Mark’s hand firmly planted on my breast, his new possession, me trying to pretend like what was happening wasn’t happening, in a state of shock.
And, as I would later learn was my “new normal,” he was so sweet, so nice for the next week or two. If I tried to talk about whatever it was that violated my personhood, he would deny it, or justify it, or tell me that wasn’t what really happened and that I was all wrong. I thought, as I would many times again in the future,“Okay… I must be wrong, it must not have happened like that. He’s so nice now, and a nice person would never do what he did, so somehow I must have interpreted it all wrong…”
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