Maybe you know this already, but the statistics for domestic violence and sexual assault are grim. Girls and boys are exposed to inappropriate sexual content on a regular basis. I’m worried for our children, especially our daughters. 1 out of every four is likely to be a victim. It pains me to think about the households that are filled with tension, anger, violence and struggles for survival. Every empathetic fiber of my being cries out for the justice and freedom of the oppressed.
To balance that is a firm belief that couples united in faith (i.e. pledging their vows before God) should be committed to do everything in their power to make their marriages work. Having entered into a holy partnership, subject to a divine covenant, how do you know when to hit the “escape” button? “Should I stay or should I go?” must tear at the hearts of the victims.
There’s a web site that provides an outlet for victims. A safe haven, as it were. A place to speak out against the abuse they’ve survived. But something happened there that has left me disturbed.
How does the moderator, a modern saint, protect the site against false accusations? I’m not talking about blatant, malicious attacks against the innocent – that’s the foundation of most of the unsilenced voices. No, I’m talking about someone speaking out against their spouse, telling their side of a very two-sided story. Calling out their partner for “abuse” without confessing to their own role in the sad state of affairs.
Most abuse is one-sided. There’s an abuser and a victim. Sometimes, however, couples develop unhealthy relationships based on power struggles, battles for control, efforts to wound and retaliate against wrongs, both real and imaginary. The roles of abuser and victim are blurred, shared, ill-defined. She dresses provocatively, wearing low cut blouses, showing cleavage, flirting, starved for attention. He’s jealous and angry, resenting the attention she gets from others, even though he doesn’t show her enough attention himself. Anger, distrust and hurt brew in the subtext of every conversation. Words that can never be reclaimed are hurled during the heat of anger. Names are called. Ugly, hateful names. Because in the depth of their pain they each want their beloved to hurt as much as they do.
Worse, they began to seek allies outside of their partnership. Others who will support “their side”. “Friends” who tell them “You should leave your partner! They’re a scoundrel! You deserve better!” Worst yet – when seeking support from someone of the opposite sex. This bolsters the individual ego “Hey! I’m not so bad. This guy/gal likes me. Why can’t my spouse see what they see.” And the partner? This new ally is the enemy and the very relationship is a betrayal, fostering even more hurt and distrust. Don’t kid yourself folks, it’s not innocent. If you must find someone to talk to, seek a counselor. If you have friends that support you, stick with same-sex friends. Don’t feign innocence defending your opposite sex ally. Your partner has every reason to object, even if nothing is happening.
My heart is hurting for a couple that is in the throes of a public separation. I’ve been reading both of their sides and I see from within. I’ve been there. I’ve lived through this. I can testify that this hard time can be survived, but in order to do so the idea of “right/wrong” must be abandoned. There is not going to be one victor and one loser, just as there is not one abuser and one victim. This relationship can be mended when these two people recognize that their love for each other is their best ally. Changes will be slow and there will be back-slides, but the man I was ready to leave (let go) 10 years ago is the same man I can’t imagine life without today, tomorrow, until death do us part. I speak from experience.
I pray for this couple, I pray for my husband and myself, I pray for all couples everywhere. Relationships are hard.