by Dogpatch 11 Replies latest jw friends

  • Dogpatch

    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.

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    NOTE:This material is for information only and is not a replacement for counseling.

  • wasblind

    i read lady lee's post daily on the freeminds site, glad it was added

    it has been helpful to me in a lot of ways.

  • Dark Side
    Dark Side

    Women...you can't live with 'em and you can't live with 'em.

    Pass the beernuts

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    Dark Side I think you have it the wrong way around. Except for one thing

    I'm doing far better without a man to control me, monitor me and watch every move I make.

    Life without an abusive spouse is much easier, less stressful and a hall of a lot happier.

    WasBlind Nice to see meet someone here who is reading the column daily. I try to keep it relevant and interesting.

    Randy Thanks for the import

  • BabaYaga

    This chilled me to the core. Very well said, dear Lady Lee, and thank you.


  • cognizant dissident
    cognizant dissident

    Interesting article Lady Lee.

    I never thought of my husband as abusive in the classic sense of the word, and I grew up with abuse in my family, so I know what it looks like. I wouldn't even say he was verbally abusive or berated me. Yet, there are more subtle kinds of abuse.

    There can be a constant devaluing of the woman and her role and her contribution in the family just because of that JW sense of male entitlement that many of them carry around like they do their briefcases. It doesn't even have to be verbalized but it is demonstrated in a thousand little actions. And I still felt trapped in that marriage. Sure, technically, I could leave, I knew that. I knew my legal rights and I was not even very submissive by JW standards. He was not very domineering compared to most JW men, either.

    Mentally, though, I believed I had no choice. If I got an education, so I could support myself, I was not putting Jehovah first. If my son was from a broken home and got into trouble and left "the truth", then I was as bloodguilty as if I had murdered him myself. If I left, then I had to be alone forever, or get df'd and lose all my family and friends, again! Not to mention, I would have nothing to look forward to but destruction for myself and my son whom I loved. Yeah, those are some choices alright! Lose your whole family and your whole world or "choose" the "truth that leads to everlasting life", which includes the "truth" that women are "less than".

    That kind of choice is like putting a gun to someone's head, or their kid's head, and saying, "sign over your future to us". So you sign, because you want to live, and then you are told, "what are you complaining about, it was your "choice".

    My husband and I are almost divorced now. The subtle, covert devaluing turned overt and very nasty, very quickly! My JW parents tried to be supportive, by telling me they never wanted me to marry him in the first place and why didn't I stand up for myself more and fight back more?

    Hmmm... the anger and rage at them welled up in me at that..... I screamed at them (inside my head, not out loud, as the JW training to honor one's parents still holds strong). "Why did I marry him? Why don't I stand up for myself more? Because you f*****g set me up for this my entire life since I was a baby, that's why!"

    I was with him since I was 18 and I'm 47 now and I feel free to be myself for the first time in my entire life. It feels really good.


  • Hopscotch

    Thank you Lee for this very powerful article. I am guessing there are many abusive JW husbands out there who get away with spousal abuse by justifying it as 'headship' and 'wifely subjection'.

    I personally know one young girl who married a JW man like this when she was 18. He controls her and their children in every way just like your husband did to you. And he has isolated her from her parents and other family members as well. When her parents have tried to talk to the elders about him, they tell the parents that he and his family are fine examples in the congregation. And on the rare occasion when the girls parents were able to talk to him and their daughter, he has told them that their daughter is now under his headship and they don't have any rights with her or their grandchildren.

    I guess to a large extent this feeling of not knowing we can choose kept many of us captives to the WTS. We often look back and ask ourselves why we stayed in as long as we did, why didn't we walk away sooner. Your article goes a long way to helping explain why we didn't.


    ps - Thanks Randy for posting it here

  • StAnn

    My first husband was/is a JW. A terrible man, physically/psychologically abusive. But the description in Lee's article above really fits my second husband, who was never a JW but was a Pentecostal. A real control freak, a real emotional batterer. It was harder for me to recognize the battery because it wasn't physical! I actually probably would NEVER have left him, although he was horrible to me, because I became so dependent when I was with him. It's as if I changed completely after we married, which was what he wanted. Don't know if I'd ever have found myself again if we'd stayed together.

    Kinda wish I hadn't read this post, takes me to back to bad times.

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee



    You're right. It is very subtle. I don't think I beleived I was free until mentally I had accepted that I would also have to leave the Witnesses. That took forever to get to. I'm glad you are free. The only thing worse than being free at 47 is waiting until you are 48. Enjoy your freedom. It was hard won.


    As I was writing it I saw the parallels to the Watchtower Society. Thye are pretty clear.


    Don't let the past get you down. What is important is that you are free NOW.

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    Today's topic, which will be posted this afternoon is about the abuse of husbands who have left the org and custody battles

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