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.
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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
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