An Open Letter to Ellie Ponder Woman

by Calulu

Dear Ellie Ponder Woman– Listen Please!

Several days ago I was directed to your blog by a friend and before I knew it I was drawn in. I read every entry, particularly those involving the struggles in your marriage with incidents of domestic violence. You stated that you wanted to glorify God through your postings, testify to His mercy, love, restoration and miracles. Which is fine because every blog author has their own central theme.

I know from reading your comments and commenting policy page that any concerns I might post for you there will only be deleted and considered hateful attacks by the enemy. I’m not writing about this out of hate, but concern for another human being that I would hate to see living in a state of fear or physical torment when something could be done. By posting this here you cannot erase it, or deny that others don’t have your best interests at heart.

First, a story, a parable of life that I feel fits your situation. Back when I was still a computer geek for hire I was employed at a large medical clinic. Being that this place was as frantic, understaffed and busy as every other doctors office we used to fill in other positions as needed. One day I was giving the receptionist her lunch break a beautiful lady approached the reception window. She stood there dressed in a attractive silk dress in reds and whites, her hair was curled and styled and she looked like she’d walked away from the Chanel makeup counter after a makeover. If anyone ever looked like they had it all together it was this lady.

For five days, Monday through Friday she arrived perfectly groomed and gorgeous at lunchtime and pleaded to be worked in on one certain doctor’s schedule right then. When asked why she needed to be seen she always told me she’d tell the doctor. Every day I emailed that doc and every single day he emailed back telling her to make an appointment because he was booked solid for the week. Each day she was refused.

That last day, Friday, I managed to find a cancellation for Monday morning and book the appointment for her. I handed her the appointment card and she turned away.

Monday morning came and her husband called to tell me she’d gone home Friday afternoon and blown her brains out with his revolver. Of course we all who knew her from the clinic were shocked and saddened. I felt truly responsible for a long time because I could not see her cries for help from beneath the pretty mask she wore.

My point? Your blog seems to me like a cry for help masked beneath a lot of flowery Evangelical language. Not that I am implying you’d commit suicide, oh no. But it does seem like you’re crying out to the world for help that you so desperately need while seeking the approval of the Evangelical crowd to tell you that you’re doing the right thing by trying to mend your marriage with the help of the church.

It’s obvious that you think that the pastor holding your husband accountable for the past domestic abuse you’ve suffered and your talks with him and his wife are good enough to resolve problems you admit at long term. But I’m sad to say that statistics say otherwise, that the church hasn’t got much in the way of helping abusers stop the abuse forever. They can pray for you, hold your hand and listen, all good things, but the ugly truth is that most pastors just aren’t equipped to deal effectively with the issues of domestic abuse. Which is sad, because while they uphold the sanctity of marriage they tend to ignore the reality that violent men unleash upon their families in private.

Did you know that abuse rates, approximately 25%, of church going families is exactly the same as it is in the world? Those rates tell me that the church’s response to domestic violence just isn’t working even as some of the most prominent Evangelical leaders like Rick Warren say to separate yourself and your children from the abuser. Please leave, for your children if you won’t do it for yourself.

There’s nothing ‘holy’ or ‘righteous’ about staying with an abuser and telling yourself that God will award you many crowns for your faithfulness and redemptive suffering. The God of the universe doesn’t require you to be injured for His glory.

One of my biggest concerns while reading your life story is that for your children. Even if your husband doesn’t abuse the children it’s still not healthy bringing them up in an atmosphere where there is abuse, even if they hadn’t already been exposed to it. Children that are exposed to domestic violence are at risk for life long problems according to the Report of the Twenty-Third Ross Round Table. I know you love your children so much that you don’t want them to experience risk factors that will impact their entire lives. Children also pick up the message that violence is the solution to problems and they can potentially carry on the cycle of abuse.

Did you know that of men that abuse their partners that eventually half of them will move on to abuse their own children? They are too precious to be harmed like that so why even chance it?

I know you’re hurting, that your husband’s abuse has caused you enormous amounts of internal pain, self doubt and fear. You say that you’ve forgiven him yet you still carry this pain. Please, please seek counseling immediately. If you cannot afford counseling or you think it’s unChristian then ask around for a Christian counselor, they do exist. Also many churches have Stephen Minister counselors who are highly trained and will take care of you for no cost at all. I’m concerned that you not experience more abuse, spiritual abuse, from those well meaning but untrained church members at your home church.

You claim he’s changed, that he’s not been violent for six months. According to statistics published by Lundy Bancroft it is very unlikely he’ll ever change. Oh sure, he’ll sit in class, be accountable to your pastor for a length of time and then one day, usually when you’re relaxed and decided he’s changed, he’ll start again. It’s not about him controlling his temper, it’s about controlling you, about needing power over someone. Anyone can keep up good behavior in the short term, it’s the long term for you and your family I am worried about. ( you should see if you can get a copy of Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Why Does He Do That”)

Women can die or be permanently disabled by domestic violence. Your children need their mother strong, healthy and alive.

Seems to me that all these women commenting on your blog that have expressed concern for you and your children are like the neighbor in the Jeep, the cops in the boat and the Coast Guard helicopter, they’re trying their best to throw a lifeline to you, to help you, to save you and you’re sitting there in the water saying God’s going to rescue you any minute now. I know this is a hoary old chestnut of a story…

There was a man whose farm was located on the banks of a flood-swollen river.  As the water rose, a neighbor drove up in a Jeep, urging him to leave before the farm was flooded.

“Oh, no,” said the man confidently, “God will save me.”

The water rose higher, and the man was forced to move into the second story of the farmhouse.  A police boat soon came, and the officers called for the man to hurry and get into their boat.

“Oh, no, that won’t be necessary,” the man insisted.  “God will save me.”

Finally the house was completely engulfed in water, and a Coast Guard helicopter swooped in to rescue the man, now perched on the roof.  Again he refused.  Just then, a huge wave of water swept over the house, and the man drowned.

When he got to heaven, he stormed at the Lord, asking WHY God had let him die when his faith had been so strong.

“What do you mean?” asked the heavenly Father.  “I sent a Jeep, a boat, and a helicopter … and you wouldn’t budge!”

Sweetie, you’ve got to woman up and deal with this abuse, nip it in the bud or it’s going to continue. Bottom line.

Comments open below

Read everything by Calulu!

Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Roadkill on the Internet Superhighway

The Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

 

 

About Suzanne Calulu
  • April

    Great advice! I grew up in an emotionally and physically and spiritually abusive home as
    A child. It does affect the children in ways that still pop up 20 years later.

  • CJ

    I am a woman who believed the lie that I was being a godly wife by staying in an abusive home for 12 1/2 years. I left 2 years ago. That was THE MOST difficult thing I’ve ever done. I was silent and only a handful of people knew what was going on. 7 years of marriage counseling did not help. The pastor couldn’t help because no one could keep my then-husband accountable. It’s been a difficult 2 years but God has blessed me profoundly since I made that step. I’m at peace with my decision.

    Though no one believed me, though people fought against me, though he lied about me when I left, I’ve stood firm in the knowledge that God loves me and always will. I will never be willingly physically abused by a man again; and staying there *is* choosing to be abused. I will not enable my own abuse.

    Six months is about as long as my ex-husband could be non-abusive. Six months on verbal/emotional/spiritual abuse is the longest he could go. At one point he went a year without physically abusing me, but usually he could only go three months.

    A great book that helped me, along with the book by Lundy Bancroft that you suggested, was “Christian Men Who Hate Women”. I cannot recall the author and I’m at work so I can’t look it up. Sorry about that.

    There is NEVER any excuse for abuse; be it against man, woman, or child. The church has failed us. PLEASE open your eyes and see the truth. Abuse happens in “christian” homes too and these women need help.

  • Evelyn

    Thank you for writing this. I was one of those women for a decade. I would give out little hints here and there, but mostly be silent, because I had been told not to dishonor my husband. Finally someone who loved me but was not a part of that church saw my hints for what they were and threw me the lifeline I needed.

  • Clarence

    Fuck off, lying bitch.
    Seriously, it’s always about Power and Control, isn’t it you damned ideologue?
    Maybe the guy really has gotten help. You want us to believe that help is impossible , because men are domonic and just want to control women.

    I hope you rot and die . I’d wish for you to burn in hell, but I don’t believe in your mythology – your Christianity or your feminism. I’m and equalist and I can’t stand your dehumanizing rhetoric nor the easy peasy way you claim to be “Christian” while trying to break up a family (and financially strain) the children in the marriage due to abuse that happened over 6 months ago.
    I don’t expect you to publish this, and I don’t care if you do or don’t. But I know you’ll see it, and perhaps you should think what kind of monster you’ve turned into. No forgiveness from a “Christian” feminist womyn, is there?

  • Andie

    Whoa, yeah! Six months! That’s practically a lifetime! *eyeroll*

  • TB

    Well it is obvious by your speech, attitude, and manner that you have no respect! You are the one that is being “dehumanizing”. Finances is a very flimsy and insufficient reason to remain victimized in an abusive relationship… there is GENUINE help for people in this situation. Maybe you should seek some professional help yourself if a very heartfelt entreaty like this one, for someone’s safety and well-being, causes such hatred and anger in you.

    6 months is a start, if there has truly been a change, but it’s only a START! She needs to protect her own value and that of her children. If there is true repentance and real change, it will still be there in another 6 months and more. Further, if there is REAL change, there will be obvious positive actions and attitudes toward this woman, her children, and all who are truly helping the situation from the accused.
    Change IS possible…. but it will last and will be evident. 6 months is NOT long enough! Until then, she must remove herself from the situation and put protective measures (physical, spiritual, and emotional) in place. And she will need a lot of support (on all levels) to make it stick!

  • Sandy

    Staying in an abusive relationship is very sinful. If the abused ones are killed, they knowingly committed suicide by staying and the abuser commits murder. I rank suicide and murder much more serious and more harmful than divorce.

  • occhiblu

    My heart aches for Ellie Ponder, and I hope that either her husband really has gotten help, admitted his wrongs, and committed to atoning for them; or she realizes the situation is not salvageable and she’s able to get out. I *do* think abusers can change, but only if they not only acknowledge their wrongs but also TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEM (i.e., none of this “If you wouldn’t…” crap). She’ll be in my thoughts.

  • occhiblu

    I would also like to say that contrary to many popular beliefs, most women’s shelter programs (which usually offer counseling even to women/men who are not currently using the shelter) very much *do* respect their clients’ religious choices and will try to help within that framework. Don’t let your fears that a counselor will tell you to leave prevent you from seeking help; even atheist/secular women have the same fears and they’re unfounded for everyone.

  • lucrezaborgia

    Is there some reason other than power and control a person beats and rapes another person? No where in this post does it say that these issues are limited to men.

  • http://calulu.blogspot.com Calulu

    Statistics from Eve.org, the US Dept of Health, on the Dept of Labor website and many other show that less than 10 percent of people who have abused family members manage to change. Most abusers will re offend. The sad thing to me is instead of the church helping they usually counsel the abused to stay put and ‘take’ it.

    Whoa! All that cursing, sounds like you have a problem with any woman having an opinion.

  • Bugg

    You really need psychological help, Clarence. Please see it ASAP.

  • Bugg

    If this really is “Clarence”, by the way. So sad.

  • Jean

    I have not read her full story and I do commend her for wanting to sustain her marriage. But, does she have an exit plan? It’s one thing to stay its another to just assume its over. Does he get one more chance? Or is he going to get to randomly abuse her,meet to confess to his church and than just get a free pass? Until next time.

    Since I’m sure this women will read this I’m going to pose these questions to you… Maybe she’ll read this and at least consider them.

    When you stand before the gates of heaven what will you say when god asks you why you allowed your body, your temple that he gave you, to be beaten and raped? How are you allowing this to happen honoring god?

    Have you decided he has beaten you for the last time? And that if he raises his hand to you again you are done? Or will you allow yourself to be randomly abused for years? Even if it’s just a couple times a year?

    Do you realize and accept that you ARE not were an abused women? Don’t believe me? Re read your abuse posts. Really read your words. You place blame on yourself. Your “caustic words” are to blame. Do you not realize that everyone, EVERYONE has the right to get snippy and not get knocked around for it? Just because you are female does not mean your subject to human emotions or bad days!

    I hope you really read the story at the end of this post, GOD is throwing you lifelines, there just not to your liking so your ignoring them. Hypocrite much?

    God bless you and keep you safe. That’s all we can do. I pray you realize your own self worth. I did not even mention your children because until you think your worth more, you’ll never be able to fully put your kids best interests at heart.

  • madame

    Sandy,
    It could also be self-denial, willingness to endure persecution for Christ’s sake… you know, the heart and the reason WHY one allows herself to be abused also count. It’s cruel to tell a person who is being abused that they are sinning by not getting out of the situation.
    Jesus was brutally abused and killed. He could have called a host of angels to get him out of the situation but he didn’t because he had a good reason to endure it all. I think he actually has some sympathy for people who endure pain for the sake of others, even if they may be mislead and mistaken.

  • madame

    Jean,
    I think your post is very cruel. It’s one thing to tell her that abuse is not going to take care of itself, even to ask if she has a “plan b”. It’s not ok to tell her she’s a hypocrite or to pile guilt on her telling her she is dishonoring God. I thought NLQ was about women who have been there and understand what is going on helping other women see the abusive situations for what they are and get out of them. The tone of your post only confirms her belief that (the collective) “we” are agents of the evil side trying to pry her away from God.

  • Bugg

    Madame, I think you are blinded by theology. That is just my opinion after reading your various replies.

  • yoshi

    After 30 years of marriage, I left my husband. He had hit me a few times in our marriage. What I want to call attention to is not the “abuse” the “hitting” but the dynamics that goes on day by day, the gymnastics that a woman has to go through no matter what her spiritual beliefs/ Religion is. She will be dodging potential situations from coming up, protecting others from potential verbal or physical abuse by deflecting it all on to herself. I did this my entire Christian Married Life. I am in counseling and my husband is in counseling and we are in counseling together. I am learning things about myself that I never knew. I am excited again about life and I am seeing changes in both of us I never would have believed possible. We are not in a world where there is one answer to every problem. We each are responsible for our own decisions and our own lives. After a certain point, our children are responsible for theirs. I have so many regrets regarding my children. I am working on those day by day.

  • http://www.thewarriorwives.com Elizabeth@Warrior Wives

    I obviously don’t know you, and I understand that you have many statistics to back up your opinion that this woman whom you do not know should leave her husband, who you also do not know because her church who you ALSO do not know is inadequate for providing accountability and counseling. However, because I believe that Scripture does have everyday relevancy, and that God is sufficient to change people without the help of professional counselors (although He certainly has worked through them countless times). I would truly love to hear you back up your opinion with Scripture. God has changed people – people with a HORRIBLE past – throughout Scripture without professional counseling and without a hope in the world that they could ever be different. Without Christ, none of us could be different than the sinners we are born to be. And if you are actually acquainted with Ponder Woman, that would lend your opinion even more credibility. Furthermore, if you have failed to read the multitude of times that PonderWoman has described and outlined just how strongly her church has kept an eye on both of them, I would recommend that you go back through her posts and read more carefully. There is no doubt that there are many churches who fail to protect an abused woman as well as who fail to counsel and confront the abuser, but Ponder Woman has made it clear in her post that her church is not one of them.

  • http://www.thewarriorwives.com Elizabeth@Warrior Wives

    Since I have read all of her posts and since only selective information was provided in this post, I’ll answer your first question…if her husband abuses her again while under the watchful eye of the church leadership, the law will immediately be called in to take over. Ponder Woman has stated this repeatedly.

  • Jenny Islander

    “Clarence,” if you’re really a man, consider this: If you lead off with a slur that is used against women to indicate that their being female is the problem, do you expect anybody to take you seriously?

    “Clarence,” if (as I suspect) you’re not a man, consider this: Abuse in marriage is never constant. There is always a honeymoon period between periods of abuse. It’s the honeymoon period that keeps the abused spouse trapped, hoping that this time the abuser will keep that new leaf turned over, accept the abused spouse’s efforts to “do better” (that is, placate and roll over and beg for scraps of kindness), whatever. The honeymoon period never lasts. Is this how you want to live for the rest of your life? Is this really something sacred and holy? Or is this human beings insisting that marriage vows are magic words that are more important than God’s commandment of love? Love is a thing a person does, not just a word or a feeling. When does he love you? God’s love is unconditional. What conditions does your husband impose? What love does he show you? Do you think God wants you to be so tired, anxious, and burdened with the defense of something that grinds away at your spirit?

  • suzannecalulu

    Yoshi, it’s good, right and healthy that all of you are in counseling, you’re taking responsible steps to mend a problem instead of tiptoing around on egg shells praying that you do not set him off. Kudos..

  • Jewel

    Elizabeth,
    That’s great, but I would say that the church has a responsibility to inform the law of abuse that they know has ALREADY taken place (not that long ago at all). Should the Catholic Church not have to take responsibility for all the young lives that were shattered by sexual abuse of young boys just because it is “all in the past”? Many in church authority think so, but the young men and their families who are affected disagree.

    I really hope that Ponder Woman has more safety measures in place than just the church authority. Church authority is NOT equipped to deal with domestic violence situations, and any one in church authority with any integrity would admit this and refer her family to the PROPER help such as a domestic violence shelter.

  • Jewel

    madame,

    Having compassion for and wanting to defend PonderWoman is one thing, and is actually very commendable.

    But throwing around false religious teaching that is paramount to spiritual abuse and is exactly the kind of garbage that kept so many of us here bound for years is something else altogether.

    You cannot equate Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for our sin on the Cross to a woman staying in an abusive marriage. It is comparing apples to oranges. A woman being abused is neither redemptive nor “for the sake of others”, as you put it. It is actually damaging not only to the woman and her children, but to the abuser, as he is allowed to remain in his sin with no consequences. Jesus did not allow Himself to be beaten and killed because he thought that maybe one day the Roman soldiers could change or the Jewish leaders would one day see things differently. On the contrary, He knew that they WOULDN’T and that His death on the Cross was necessary to pay for the sins of mankind that had always been and would always continue to be.

    Like I said, being a friend to PonderWoman is great, but I get the feel that your posts are more to justify what you believe about abuse than to actually defend a friend.

  • madame

    Ponder Woman already did involve the law, and Elizabeth said that if there is abuse the law will be called to step back in.

    I witnessed a case where the church “took over” (for lack of a better expression) to help a marriage where he was abusive. It took one time of him breaking his commitment and the law was called in, locks were changed, and the church supported her through.
    The marriage ended in divorce, but the woman actually got out of the marriage sooner because she had the church supporting her unconditionally.

  • madame

    I think my post was not clear, and I apologize, Jewel.
    I know of abused women who have stayed in their marriages because they believed that they were “imitating Christ”, so I could never condemn a woman for staying in a marriage out of that belief. It’s genuine, however misled it may be, and I believe God sees the heart and what motivates actions that may be a result of misunderstanding. I would try to gently persuade her that God doesn’t demand that of her and that she’s supporting his sin, but never tell her that she is in sin herself for staying.
    I found Sandy’s post judgmental and harsh. However enabling staying may be.
    But if you read Ponder Woman’s posts, she is staying because her husband has shown a desire to change. She has chosen to forgive him, and give her marriage a chance with the support of the church.
    I would leave a man who ever dared hit me, rape me or otherwise abuse me. I am not defending my belief! Sorry if it came across that way.

  • madame

    Bugg,
    I hope that my latest replies show you that I am not blinded by theology. I can’t judge Ponder Woman’s situation because I’m not there. I am glad she has a church that is supporting her and I hope for her and her family that her husband’s change is for good, and that he won’t revert to abusing her or their children.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    “You want us to believe that help is impossible , because men are domonic and just want to control women.”

    I can’t imagine where you got the idea that Calulu thinks that all men are “domonic.” All she did was hold ONE man accountable for his abusive actions and suggest that 6 months without abuse is hardly an all-clear zone or something that a guy should get a cookie for. Why do you think that this constitutes a condemnation of all men? Do you think that all men act the way this woman’s husband did, that an abusive nature is some how integral to maleness and that, therefore, an attack on it, is an attack on men?

    Given your disgusting, degrading verbal attack on Calulu, this would not surprise me at all. Just like dishonest people often believe that everyone is lying to them, scumbag guys often think that all other guys are as scummy as they are. I’ll let you do the rest of the math yourself.

  • Grace

    Wow! I can’t believe al the assumptions you are making about someone you don’t know. I know this lady you speak of personally and things just aren’t the way you are making them out to be!

  • http://www.thewarriorwives.com Elizabeth@Warrior Wives

    I think this is slightly different from the situation with the children being abused by priests…in this case there is a marriage covenant that Ponder Woman is fighting to preserve. And as “madame” stated, she has already involved the law, saw only surface changes that were made to keep himself out of jail and THEN involved the church, which led to actual heart change. I think we could all agree that heart change is the desirable kind of change…not just a change in behavior.

    I’m curious what you believe the church’s authority IS adequate for. I don’t recall there being a list of situations that were exempt from it. Many, many churches are too soft on confronting sin – VERY true, unfortunately – but there are also many churches who are taking this and other grave situations very seriously and seeing people experience genuine change. It seems most Christians have bought into this fallacy that only professionals are equipped to handle sin – because that’s what abuse is – sin. Although certainly God can and does work through professionals, they are not going to change his heart, only Christ is. Professionals frequently ignore that fact that it is sin that is causing the abusive behavior and that repentance is the only cure.

  • Jewel

    madame,
    Thank you for clarifying, and I apologize too if I came across angry. I guess I am pretty angry as I am VERY recently out of an abusive marriage myself, and out of spiritual abuse by more than one church body.

    I think I understand more what you are saying now. That the Lord can honor even a person’s misgiven conviction that they are doing something for Him. Yes, I would agree with that, as I believe He is more gracious and loving than we can even imagine.

    I would never tell an abused woman that she is sinning by staying in her marriage! The last thing an abused woman needs is more spiritual abuse heaped on her! What makes me the most angry is the people/churches/pastors etc. who are telling her that she is doing something WONDERFUL by staying and that she will be blessed for it! That is simply not true, and they have no idea whether or not she will be blessed or whether or not she will end up dead!!! But I don’t think that is what YOU were saying at all. I did, however, read it in so very many comments on PonderWoman’s blog, which I did read.

    I hope her husband’s conversion is real, but I know how easy it is for someone to fake a conversion as well. :( Like I said in another post, I hope she has more than just the church in place as a safety net.

  • Jewel

    @Elizabeth@WarriorWives:

    To try and answer your points:
    As far as PonderWoman trying to preserve a marriage covenant, in my opinion, the marriage covenant was violated and nullified the first time her husband abused her. I found that to be the case in my own marriage. At one point I realized that I was fighting for something that no longer (and maybe never really) existed.

    As far as church authority vs. civilian authority: I don’t believe at all that the civilian authorities can affect heart change, but I also don’t believe that the church authorities can either. As you said, only God can. You are so right that only true repentance is the cure, but the church as an institution has no corner market or magic bullet on making that happen. It is sad that is the case, but it is. Only the Holy Spirit can work there. The church should be (but quite often isn’t, as again, you said yourself) equipped at confronting sin, but they do NOT have the authority to punish a CRIME. I think this is where things often get muddled up. From what I can understand from reading PW’s blog, and the timeline is kind of sketchy, the authorities were involved once, a year or 2 ago, or longer, not in the most recent (and by PW’s own recounting) most heinous, event(s). As a repeat offender, his punishment for his crime would almost certainly be harsher, and should be.

    In addition to sin, there is a such thing as mental illness, which you could make a very good case in saying that anyone who beats and sexually assaults his wife is suffering from. The church is NOT equipped to deal with mental illness in any sense, and certainly cannot evaluate and dispense psychiatric medications if that were needed. I hope that you can see the distinction between sin and mental illness, BOTH of which may be involved in abuse!

    Anyway, while the church certainly has its place, it is very dangerous to assume that it is able to handle all problems that its members may be experiencing with no outside help.

  • Jewel

    @madame:

    It is always encouraging to hear of a case where the system worked the way it is supposed to. If only there were more stories like that. But sadly, I have only heard of the ones, including my own, where the church tells the wife that she must submit to her husband and go back to the situation.

    What if, in the scenario above that you mentioned, the “one incident” had ended in the woman (and children if she had any) being killed rather than the happy ending that it had? I’m just saying that the church walks a very dangerous, fine line when they choose to take the “wait and see” approach.

  • Africaturtle

    The one thing an abused woman “knows” (because her abuser has told her so many times in so many ways) is how much she has messed up, how incompetent she is, how ridiculous her feelings are, how weak she is, how skewedher version of reality is, and how unbelievable her story is. While i know that everyone here is against any form of domestic violence it pains me to see further abuse heaped on this woman ( all of the guilt-inflicting, threatening language) in the name of wanting to “help” her. Accompanying a victim of abuse is a long and difficult process. Also, it is not because a woman chooses to leave that many of the threats and dangers ( to her or her children) are immediately resolved, in fact it can make things worse!

    i do think it is sad that the church holds the marriage “vow” in higher importance than the well-being (love lived out) of the individual. In my opinion, it is the abusive spouse who has nullified the marriage vows by destroying the most sacred of trusts. I am not sure that anyone who has not lived with abuse can understand the truly soul-destroying nature of such acts. And the physical acts of violence are generally the *least* painful.

    I am glad people who know this woman personally are reading here. I am glad she has a support system that she feels protected by. I, because of personal experience, do worry that it may be “too soon”to know what true level of change has been acheived but that does not negate the positive effects of this peaceful period.

    I would offer one challenge to those close to the case in real life: how will you deal with acts of violence that do not warrant police intervention or that are not clearly criminal? maybe they would be better labeled as “agressive” or “intimidating” or even “passive -agressive” (plain old ‘meaness)? I think that given the level of accountability it does seem less likely that PonderMan (yes i have read most of Ponderwoman’s blog) will resort to assault. But what if he “just” punches the wall? what if he slams doors here and there and slams his fist on the table to make his point heard? What if she messes up on something or has a bad day and he lays into her with a verbal tirade?

    To the untrained counselor ( hence all the references here to ” professional ” help in other comments ) these actions could easily be brushed off as “normal” marital conflict or an isolated “sin” incident where the flesh was indulged… But in an abusive relationship these more “subtle” messages carry great weight and play fully into the continued cycle of control, manipulation and coercion. The fact that ponder woman mentioned a specific incident (since conversion) that he accelerated rapidly in the car but excused it just as quickly speaks volumes to me. ( i have experienced that too) but to many (who haven’t been there) it wouldnt be more than something to shrug your shoulders at. I also know the fear it triggers and the inner voice that says ” common, it’s not *that* big of a deal! He is *trying*!” and his voice , when you look at him with suprised/ frigthened eyes, that says, ” What!?! i *just* accelerated a little… Dont go getting all worked up again!”

    I also can testify to the fact of social workers / women’s crisis counselor’s being very undrstanding / respectful of individual desires and religious conviction/ beliefs. They are simply there to listen and facilitate. They are not interrested in forcing you into a mould and respect your own desires. Iwas pleasantly suprised by this discovery in my experience. One suggestion i would offer to Ponderwoman is to find a DV support group and join…. It is really helpful in processing all you’ve been through and rewarding to be able to support other’s who have been through similar things. i highly recomend it!

  • madame

    @ Elizabeth:
    I agree that a change of heart is the only solution to abuse. As someone who is (I assume) close to Ponder Woman, I hope you also take into consideration the issue of mental illness that Jewel pointed out. Mental illness is often dismissed by the church, but I think it is simply one more aspect of human brokenness that has to be accepted and dealt with. Mental illness drives people back to abuse even if they may be trying to overcome it, or it makes Christian counselling impossible. My father-in-law is mentally ill and abusive of his wife and children. We were caught up in his delusions, at one point building him a boat which he believed God had commanded him to build in order to save his whole family from imminent dissaster, and at other times leaving everything to support him in some insane business idea. The last one involved expensive machines that are still sitting in my basement along with ground-up “special grass” which is supposed to make wonder slimming pills.
    The pastors my mother-in-law and I called into the mess all overlooked the possibility of mental illness and tried to reason with him, but he thinks he is right and the world is wrong. Nearly 9 years into my marriage I decided to step away from him and now there is no relationship. It’s been a year now, and I can feel the difference! Thankfully, my husband also sees the craziness of all this and is not supporting his father any more, at least not in his business ventures or boat-building. Long-term abuse also messes-up the children, even if they may not have been directly abused. In my in-law’s case, my FIL had such a hold on my husband that he got him to drop everything and go support him to get his wife back! Everything meant his wife, children and church. Our marriage was nearly destroyed.

    @Jewel,
    I agree that the church should consider outside help for issues that it can’t deal with alone. Some churches have professional counselors who can help spot a mental illness and could refer the abuser (or the abused) to the apropriate professionals. I hope Ponder Woman’s church leadership is wise and not afraid to involve outside help as needed.

    I am happy when I hear that a church is serious about abuse and steps in to offer support to the family and confronts the abuser. I am also happy when the church doesn’t take the marriage covenant lightly. Hopefully this leads to making sure the covenant is kept, and this means a lot more than making sure the two remain under one roof. In fact, separation may be necessary and shouldn’t be feared.

  • suzannecalulu

    If you do know this lady then be a friend and suggest counseling for her. Regardless of if the abuse is over or not over she seems to need a place to process all she’s been through. The internet is not that place but a good compassionate counselor could help her deal with the residual pain she feels. Do you understand that people are concerned for her, it’s not backbiting bitchery going on here, but genuine worry about her situation?

  • Teecee

    Wow. You’re taking this pretty personally, and you seem to have an anger problem to boot. I’d hate to be your wife … if anyone would be.

  • Katie

    If you’re a real person, not a troll, you’re one of the most closed minded individuals I’ve ever encountered. First, this is 2012, not 1612. A woman isn’t actively destroying her financial future, her children’s futures, or that of her abusive spouse by leaving a horrible situation. So, she has to get a job and he has to pay child support. Whoop dee doo. What’s that compared to becoming a shell of a human being? What’s some financial hardship compared to watching your daughters marry men like their father and your sons beat their wives, all the time knowing that they’re living what you taught them? Women don’t leave these relationships lightly. We love our husbands. All we want is a happy family, kids, etc. What’s man hating about that?

  • Teecee

    >>Many, many churches are too soft on confronting sin – VERY true, unfortunately <<

    It depends on how the individual church defines "sin." You and I define abuse as sin, but many churches define divorce as the much greater sin. That is the problem.

  • http://calulu.blogspot.com Calulu

    This one is dedicated to you Clarence – http://youtu.be/uz2jbCJXkpA

  • Grace

    You fail to hear again… She has been and will continue to receive counselling offline that is why she is now able to write about it all! You should hear her husband! He is so ashamed and regrets things so much! He even knows all bout her writing and doesn’t want to hide his sinful pass but wants to build a brighter future for them all. Her children are happy, playful, energetic and safe. I see them atleast once a week amongst others she is in contact with. If you all care then why not be happy that sometimes these things can change! and why not encourage her instead of discouraging her… Many families are broken with reason but why not rejoice that this family is mending? I pray God will help you all find the same peace!

  • Katie

    I think everyone who’s advising her to leave is forgetting one thing. People who are killed by domestic abusers for the most part are killed when they show any sign of getting away, or have successfully gotten away only to be tracked down. They’d rather the victim die than loose control.

    So if she plans on running, she needs to take that into account and do it as safely as possible.

  • Lisa

    If anyone was wondering, I looked on Amazon and the book “Christian Men Who Hate Women” is by Dr. Margaret J. Rinck. The reviews are very positive and it looks like a good read.

  • Lisa

    Thanks so much for linking this. I laughed my buns off. Seriously, people, click that link. You won’t regret it.


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