Justice is No Lady: Chapter 11: Jack, the One I Lost

defenant-rising1

by Tess Willoughby When Jack was just a baby, Nate had rejected Jack’s personality, and had set out to beat and berate it out of him. When Jack reached middle school age, or perhaps a little bit before, the seeds that his father had planted suddenly sprouted. Jack began to come unraveled. “Something is wrong with me,” he said. “I’m messed up.” Jack began to abuse his little sisters. His grades slipped. He had been my comedian, making jokes about everything all day. Now, he moped. He refused to play sports. He would not bathe. If anyone touched Jack, even to restrain him or remove dangerous objects from his hands, Nate took Jack to magistrates to swear out warrants that … [Read more...]

Justice is No Lady: Chapter 10 My Right to Be Heard

By Tess Willoughby Nate got another partner almost immediately. He found her on a Christian dating site. Patty had money from her millionaire father and a big house paid for by the government salary of her estranged husband. Nate had told me that remarriage for me was unbiblical, but he found a loophole in Scripture and told the children that he and Patty were already married in God’s eyes. God having spoken, Nate moved into Patty’s house and put our marital home up for rent. Nate wrote me a letter warning that if I did not “come to terms” (give him full custody of the children), he would hold a big yard sale and sell off everything in the house that belonged to me and the … [Read more...]

Justice is No Lady: Chapter 9 – Terrorists, Far and Near

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse. by Tess Willoughby September 11, 2001. This dark day united all Americans in horror, in terror, and in pain. With at least one exception: Nate Willoughby. I found out that our country had been attacked using our own commercial aircraft when my mother called me from town and said, “Turn on the news.” Her tone of voice suggested the worst of the worst of the worst: so awful that you didn’t ask “what channel?” because it didn’t matter what channel. The president had been assassinated. There was some horrific, unthinkable natural disaster, probably in Virginia. Something so bad she couldn’t say … [Read more...]

Justice Is No Lady: Chapter 8 ~ Backlash

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse. by Tess Willoughby Part Two: The Legal Aftermath I fled to the farm where I grew up and spent several weeks just trying to get the fuzz out of my head. I went to the doctor, who diagnosed Abi with failure to thrive. I supplemented her with formula but continued to breastfeed, because for once I had the luxury of breastfeeding by my own lights, and I intended to enjoy it. I moved six kids, 9 years old and under, in with my mom and dad, who were absolute angels about it.  I do not remember either of them complaining even once. What were Tess’s long-term plans? Did I want separation? Divorce? Neither? Was God angry … [Read more...]

Justice is No Lady: Chapter 7 ~ Spiritual Adultery

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse. by Tess Willoughby Nate says what happened from Christmas of 1999 through summer of 2000 was this: I condoned his affair with Angel. I guess Nate should know, because “condone” is a legal term and he’s a lawyer.  That’s not the way I remember it. I remember two things: being very ill and being very angry. After the lingeré bonfire, Nate kept his sickly, irate wife very busy listening to his sermons on forgiveness, doing unpaid paralegal work (he set up his new firm at home with the clients stolen from his former boss), getting through Christmas on a shoestring, overhauling our finances, and going to marriage … [Read more...]

Justice is No Lady: Chapter 6 ~ In Which Nate Takes Up Racquetball

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse. by Tess Willoughby I tried to conceal my misery, fatigue, and desperation from the members of our new church. We had not been there very long when people began to notice how spaced-out and jumpy Tess Willoughby was. Our pastor, Mike, and our assistant pastor, Randy, both expressed concern about me. I was pregnant for the seventh time, and I dreaded another pregnancy, birth, and recovery. The clandestine feedings of Matt had delayed this pregnancy—this baby would be two whole years younger than Matt, a personal record. Matt’s birth in 1998 had been in the hospital—my first hospital delivery—because Nate had health … [Read more...]

Justice is No Lady: Chapter 5 ~ In Pursuit of Biblical Theology

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse. by Tess Willoughby Hannah was born at home in spring of 1996.  By this time, Nate had a better job at a personal injury law firm and we were able to get a three-bedroom house. Satan must have followed us, because now there were lesbians having sex in the mailbox and Nate had no idea how the pervert porn peddlers got his name and address again. I was still in a stupor, still worshipping my cult leader. The lights were on in my brain but no one was home. I think, however, that my brain’s doorbell started ringing in 1996, and Tess’s Good Sense began its three years of patiently knocking, waiting to be invited back … [Read more...]

Justice is No Lady: Chapter 4 ~ Second Prison Break and the Norfolk Years

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse. by Tess Willoughby It was 1995. Nate’s grandmother’s basement was orange. It was wallpapered in a fifties motif with little vinyl record albums. My husband, the newly minted Christian attorney, had been in this basement on his laptop computer, hooked up to the internet, for six months. I sat and looked out the basement window, the bottom of which was level with the dirt, and begged Nate for the thousandth time to disconnect and spend some time with his wife and three babies. Nate would come out of the basement only for food, sex (I had the wrong lingeré still), evening TV, and excursions to the grocery store. And … [Read more...]

Justice is No Lady: Chapter 3 ~ Company of the Faithful

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse. by Tess Willoughby At Regent University, I had lots of role models. Sweet-tempered women were submitting to their husbands, keeping their student apartments immaculate, and having babies right and left. I learned to buy wheat berries from the local co-op and grind them to bake bread. We were Stepford Wives, only hugely, proudly fertile. We grew herbs. We read books on natural childbirth. We prayed for God to make us more meek and submissive. And we prayed for our dear darling hubbies over at the Christian law school who were going to usher in a new American Revolution and turn this country around. “Shh! Quiet! … [Read more...]

Justice is No Lady: Chapter 2 ~ First Prison Break

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse. by Tess Willoughby 1993 was a rough year. It was the year that Nate was fired from his engineering job in Tazewell, Virginia, and first started thinking about studying the law. It was the year when we went to a conference and met a pastor who advocated corporal punishment for wives, and Nate took to his teachings like a duck to water. It was the year I had Jack, who was conceived a few months after Daniel’s birth. Most notably, 1993 marked my first attempt at a separation from Nate. Daniel had been born at home. Nate and I were part of the Christian separatist movement of the late ’80s and early ’90s, rooted in … [Read more...]