I stood over the bathroom sink trying to get ready for bed as quiet as I could. My unsteady hands dropped the contact lens. I took a deep breath. I had to keep it together and not let him get to me.
“You do this on purpose! You fucking bitch! I have to get up early and you’re keeping me awake! Damnit! ” He punched the bed with his fist. My husband was laying in bed raging. Again. I hurriedly finished, turned off the light and laid down in bed. I could hear my daughter singing along to her music down the hall.
“Can you go tell your daughter to shut up!?”
I laid there for a moment, staring up into the darkness. That moment was all it took.
“Never mind, I’ll do it myself!” He angrily got out of bed to walk to her room. I jumped out of bed and hurried after him. “Leave her alone!” I said as I went after him, trying to stop him from going to her room, “I’ll tell her, just leave her alone!” I repeated. He stopped abruptly just outside our doorway and turned around. Before I could retreat, he put both his arms up and shoved me back with his forearms. I had already started to back up, so the impact was not hard enough to knock me down. He walked back into the room and I went to my daughter’s room to let her know that we were going to bed and tell her to keep it down. For good measure, I told my son as well.
I walked back to the room and closed the door. As I rounded the bed, I accidentally bumped the bedpost. Muffling a curse, I got in bed as quietly and quickly as I could. Too late. My husband jumped out of bed, screaming, “You have NO respect for me!” He leaned over the side of the bed and pushed up and down on the mattress, still yelling, “How do you like it now?!” He grabbed the bedpost and violently shook the bed. Then, he walked over to the bathroom light switch and flicked it on and off several times, “You do it on purpose, you fucking bitch! How many times have I told you to go to bed by 9?!”
I laid in bed, not making a sound. He walked back to the bed and laid down. He continued to rage. In the dark, I put my hands over my ears to try to shut out his cruel words. One dog was pressed up against my side and the other one was trembling, curled up on my neck. Eventually, he quieted down. I put my hands down and turned onto my side, away from him. Every time I start to fall asleep, he jabbed my in the back to wake me back up. I tried to stay awake, but inevitably I would start to fall asleep again and he’d jab me again. Finally, he fell asleep…
I can remember the scene so vividly. At this point, my life seemed surreal. Like I was caught in a nightmare that wouldn’t end. But, there were people watching my nightmare. They were watching and shaking their righteous heads. I was the poor woman who made the wrong choice. The bible is clear what the consequences of such a choice were. I was bound to stay married to my husband unless I have undeniable proof that my husband has been sexually unfaithful. One can only presume that proof involves a hidden camera. Oh, yeah. There is one other stipulation. If my husband is physically abusive then I can leave. But, I can never remarry or I’ll be an adulteress.
All my life I was told that I was to “submit” to my husband. I have sat through an untold number of sermons about submitting to one’s husband. God’s plan for a woman was to be subject to her father until she got married. Then, she was subject to her husband. I have counseled with several pastors, seeking advice about what to do about my husband’s raging. I desperately wanted someone to tell me that it was okay to leave. But, no one did. I remember one woman in particular. She was the head of women’s ministry at the local mega church. I told her about my husband, who has threatened and verbally abused me. She adamantly told me that God said that I couldn’t leave my husband unless he was sexually unfaithful. She also said that I could leave if he was physically abusive. That never made much sense to me. He could threaten me, but I couldn’t leave unless he carried through on his threats. So, I couldn’t leave unless he hurt or killed me?
When this particular scene played out, I was scared. Scared, but relieved. I had spent 14 years with my husband while he called me vile names, threatened me and manipulated me. But, when he shoved me all I could think was, “Thank you, God.” Physical abuse, right? He finally went over that line and now the church will help me leave him. The next morning, I called my pastor. His response? He told me that I needed to non-aggressively go to my husband and tell him that we need to go to counseling. Because, obviously, I must be to blame for what happened. Perhaps I didn’t exude the proper, timid womanly spirit. I mean, that would piss off any self-respecting husband, right? That’s when I finally figured it out. All those years I spent praying to God to rescue me, to reveal to me what I should do, I had the answer all along. All I had to do was walk out the door.
#domesticabuse #intimatepartnerabuse #spiritualabuse