I had to post this from Freeminds, was such a good article Lee!
Abused women do not choose to leave - at least not until they know they are able to choose. And even then it is often a choice made out of a need for survival rather than a well thought out plan. If a person does not know they are free to choose then they are NOT free to choose.
An example. I grew up in a home where I watched my mother be beaten, choked, strangled, attacked, berated, yelled at, put down, ignored and treated as a slave. I grew up in a home where I and all my siblings were beaten and attacked and assaulted and then were told this was love. And we were told no one else would love us like they did. Hmmm conclusion - if they hit me, it means they love me. I don't like it but hey, they love me.
I grow up and realize I never want to put my kids through the same thing, so when I marry I tell my husband if he ever hits me I'm outa there - or he is. So he never hits me and I sit there thinking I have done better than my mother. Ain't life grand.
But he yells at me and lectures me and berates me. I am never good enough and aren't I blessed with such a loving husband who never hits me. Because he tells me how lucky I am and what a terrible temper he has and I don't want to see it, so I'd better behave. He takes sex when HE wants with little concern for how I feel. He controls the money and I get a small allowance to buy food and clothes and all the other necessities for the home and family. He pays the bills. And like a good little Jehovah’s Witness he pays the taxes, too.
He tells me what to wear and when I can go to the store for shopping and when I have to be home. I need to call if there are any changes in plans and I have to explain if I am late - even a few minutes. I am told to have supper on the table when he gets home so we can get to the meeting. Forget that I am sick or one of the kids is. Get dressed and get to the meeting --- or out in service - must be good little examples now mustn't we? And never ever breathe a word of what goes on at home - ever.
So I go to the meetings and I listen to those talks about wives being in subjection and being lesser than men. I listen how we cannot live without a husband and would have to rely on the charity of the congregation - and well you’ve seen what they do to others who are single parents. And then I certainly wouldn't want to break God's laws or make my husband sin, because I would be responsible if I didn't give him sex when he wanted it. And Lord knows I don't need that blood-guilt thing on my hands - I have enough guilt and shame going already.
So what are my choices. Do I have any? Am I "free" to pack up my things and the kids to leave? My mother told me "You made your bed, now lie in it!" Yup thanks mom - you arranged this hell I live in, not me. The Watchtower Society say I won't get into the new system if I leave. He says I won't let you go. Choices? I have choices? And I haven't even touched the whole "Where will I go? How will I support myself with no high school and no skills and being as stupid as I am?"
...Until one day someone said to me (a non-Jehovah’s Witness) “Not making a choice IS making a choice.” Hmm I had to think that one over. It took a while. If not deciding to stay or go was a choice then maybe I did have a choice. And if I did have a choice and staying was it, then I certainly didn't like that one, so I found another. I left. Took me 15 years to do it.
My point is that I never ever thought I had a right to choose to leave. And as long as I thought I had no choice I was just as much as prisoner as any person held hostage by any madman with the ability to keep me captive.
A while ago I went to a conference on the similarities between Stockholm Syndrome and Battered Wife Syndrome. I was fascinated. Also for many years I have inwardly known that a battered woman is just as much a hostage as a hostage victim. I had never seen anything to validate the belief - until then. It seems there have been a few studies to compare the two.
For those of you who don't know what Stockholm Syndrome is: In the summer of 1973, four hostages were taken in a botched bank robbery at Kreditbanken in Stockholm, Sweden. At the end of their captivity, six days later, they actively resisted rescue. They refused to testify against their captors, raised money for their legal defense, and according to some reports one of the hostages eventually became engaged to one of her jailed captors.
The Stockholm Syndrome comes into play when a captive cannot escape, is isolated, and threatened with death, but is shown token acts of kindness by the captor. It typically takes about three or four days for the psychological shift to take hold. A strategy of trying to keep your captor happy in order to stay alive becomes an obsessive identification with the likes and dislikes of the captor which has the result of warping your own psyche in such a way that you come to sympathize with your tormenter!
The syndrome explains what happens in hostage-taking situations, but can also be used to understand the behavior of battered spouses, members of religious cults, Holocaust victims.
Now in the Stockholm case the hostages did not know their captor. They were with him for only six days and yet they all suffered from the syndrome. One of the points made about battered women is that they would be at an even greater risk of this traumatic bonding because they know and are in a relationship with their "captor" and the captor has control over them for a heck of a lot longer than 6 days.
In some cases Jehovah’s Witness wives have been permitted to separate from their abusive husbands. But for the most part they are told by the elders to stay and be better wives.
Whether the husband hits or not, spousal abuse is wrong and undeserved. Spousal abuse is serious and in almost all cases escalates. Shockingly we are reading more reports in the media of Witness husbands killing their wives and children. No woman deserves to be hit, yelled at, lectured, treated as a slave, constantly monitored and questioned about her activities. This is not love. There is no trust. There is simply abuse. And sadly the Watchtower Society’s beliefs about the privilege of men condones this abuse.
One note here. It isn’t always the women who are being abused. Sometimes they are the abusers and I suspect this most often happens when the husband is no longer or has never been a Jehovah’s Witness.
If you or someone you know is being abused by their spouse then help is available. The front of most telephone books has a list of emergency phone numbers and there is almost always a number for abused women. Call.
NOTE:This material is for information only and is not a replacement for counseling.