Editor’s note: The author of this piece didn’t want to share her name, location or identifying details and so all identifying names/places and info has been changed to keep her abusive ex husband from discovering where she is. But she has a story to tell about abuse in the world of Evangelical Quiverfull we’re not touched upon here, one of reproductive abuse. What happens when the man decides to enter Quiverfull without the permission of the wife?
We’re also going to be posting anonymous stories here at NLQ as they land in the email box. The truth needs to be told.
It wasn’t until recently when I was watching a marathon of “Law & Order: SVU” episodes on USA network that I realized I’d been a victim of reproductive abuse by my ex husband. The episode was about a man that went around seducing women after charming them and tracking their periods. During the seductions there was usually a birth control method failure. He was poking holes into the rubbers he used. The abuser left a long trail of babies conceived against the consent of their mothers.
(Editor’s note: That episode is “Bang” from Season 12 starring John Stamos as the abuser)
My descent from regular Evangelical Christian women to Quiverfull mother happened much like what happened to the ladies on that “Law & Order: SVU” episode.
We’d been married a long time, experiencing many ups and downs in our relationship. My husband struggled with a bipolar disorder since early adolescence and most of our marriage was stabilized by lithium and a good therapist. Four children, nice home, good jobs and a strong faith in God. We attended a non-denominational church near the goodly sized city we lived near in Michigan. We were happy, or so I thought.
While we were attending our church things started to change, the church started to change. Things started to change very drastically. More and more the theology of the pastor and other congregants started to skew rightward. The men’s Bible study group my husband Charles attended started to pressure him to get off his lithium and trust in Christ for his healing.
Now I was unaware that they had gotten Charles to take this drastic step, but I had my own problems. It started to be preached that good mothers did not work outside of the home, that you must homeschool. Having large families started to be the norm. I was disturbed by the pressure that was being laid upon me by the ladies of the church to conform, but I did try to do my best to do what was being preached, becoming more submissive, learning to garden, bake fresh bread from scratch and started homeschooling my children after arranging to work part time. But the change was miserable for everyone in our family.
Things came to a an explosive climax in the summer of 1998. While we were down in Florida on a family vacation I came upon my Charles with a knife. He’d decided to kill himself, slice open his own throat. I tried to stop him. We wrestled over the knife and I got cut badly on one arm. The people in the next door hotel room called law enforcement because of the noise we were making. Charles told the cops I tried to kill myself and he stopped me. I was committed for observation for three days to the mental hospital.
While I was being held Charles took our four kids and left me there, driving back to Michigan without me. The staff at the hospital realized quickly that I was not suicidal and I was released.