I was trying to reference something from Patricia Evan's The Verbally Abusive Relationship today, and WOW it seemed I saw some relations to how the church deal with verbal abuse.
Since the verbal abuser needs to have Power Over his partner, he cannot accept her as an equal. He may, however, tell her that he does. Why can't he accept her as an equal? Because he would experience her equality as his inferiority. He would have to ask for what he wanted. He would be open to rejection. He would have to give up control and dominance. Control and dominance seem to give the abuser a sense of power, security and identity as a male.
You know what this sounds like to me? It sounds like those speeches and preaches you hear about how we are both equal in God's eyes, but remember he is LEADER of the HOME! Remember the bibles says you are to SUBMIT to your husband! HECK some churches go one step further, and tell women they are to submit to men in general!
Secure men of faith aren't going to use that type of talk, and they are NOT going to demand submission. They realize that is not their place, and it is NOT something that God would require him to 'remind' her of! They aren't going to remind her of her place, because after all he is the HEAD here!
Its the insecure men of faith that use this as a tool to GET the power they feel God has given them, and incorporates their identity as a man of God. They are entitled to it, and the control and dominance is just a characteristic of it!
I see some women are just as nasty about it. They will proclaim how they submit in the proper biblical fashion, and pretty much tell you if you are having issues within the relationship? Hush, Pray and submit some more! Remember we are the 'emotional' ones, and they are 'wired' for leadership!
There are alot of churches that use this Power over concept, and yet claim we are all equal. Are they treated as equal? Of course NOT! Could be why people tend to be confused when their words and actions don't line up!
Just to be fair here?! If you really LOOK at what she said it would be true of any abuser. Abusers no matter what the gender is are NOT going to give up their dominance and control to make you feel equal! You aren't equal and you can't be equal, because that would make them inferior. They rage and abuse out of those feelings of inferiority.
One way to identify a relationship of inequality is to determine whether or not the couple can set mutual goals and discuss them together. In an abusive relationship, the couple does not really plan together. Planning together requires mutuality and equality. Mutuality and equality do not exist with Reality I (power over). In an abusive relationship the partner may discover that her mate will not discuss long - or short term goals with her, nor is he willing, in some instances, even to make plans with her for a weekend. Neither personal goals nor plans for the future together are discussed and agreed upon in a mutually supportive way.
Goals in this example can be anything!
Years ago after I first got married I started to work for a graphics firm. It was an entry level job, and we had spoken about my goal to work my way up the company. In most relationships this would be something you would talk about with your spouse, but the discussion on his end would always be shut down. "Whats the big deal! You sit on your butt all day, and get paid for it! What else is there to want?"
I was told that maybe he was reacting like this because he felt STUCK in his job, and his advancement options were limited. You didn't discuss that he had limited them due to his attitude, arrogance, etc. Since he felt insecure about this discussion I was to leave it alone.
I did get my promotion, and was very happy with my position. I had been doing the different aspects of accounting for example, and I had brought down the length of time the receivables took to arrive as part of my job. In general terms? That means I got the customers to pay us on a timely fashion. It took alot of effort, headache, and cooperation from the officers and sales people within the firm. It gave me a sense of pride. The VP was my boss, and he went out of his way to show his appreciation for my efforts!
There were days in which I wanted to talk about what had happened - good and bad! We all have those days, and lately I had been hearing alot regarding his job. I basically wanted to discuss some frustration with one of the customers, and see if I could get any input. "I don't need to hear about it! I'm surprised they haven't figured you out yet! I wouldn't be surprised if the company doesn't go bankrupt with you doing the BOOKS!"
It was clear discussions of our jobs would be a one way street. His health issues were then used as an excuse for his attitude. His frustration towards his job. His view of NOT climbing the ladder the way he wanted to. I was told I was making him feel insecure.
Sometime later I was going to lunch, and I was surprised in the Employee lounge with a catered lunch. This included all the employees. I was taken back because I wasn't told about the purchase (I did the purchasing), and I wasn't asked for a check (I wrote the checks! LOL!). I sat down with all the rest of the employees, and figure the bill would show up on an expense report. I was more interested to see what all the buzz was about! Come to find out it was an award lunch FOR ME! I didn't see that coming, and the graphics department also made me a HUGE card that everyone signed. I was also given a nice gift as part of the recognition. You can imagine the surprise and thrill I felt! I was the first person to win the award for a new employee appreciation program, and that was WHY no one told me! LOL!
I walked in from work, and I was carrying the HUGE card and my gift. "What is THAT?" "You won't believe what happened at work today!" "What?" "They gave me an employee appreciation award today! See the card the graphics department made? They also included this gift! Isn't it pretty?" "Did they give you any money?" "Ahh. No." "Did they give you a raise?" "No. We didn't go there at the party." "What's the big deal then? I mean unless they back it up with some money it doesn't mean ANYTHING! I mean what is WITH the stupid CARD?! You are excited over a cheap gift, and I guess you feel 'appreciated' right? (mocking voice)"
At this point I knew what people would tell me, and when a family member did find out they wondered if maybe I was not HUMBLE enough. I know for a fact I wasn't arrogant about it, but I was excited. Who wouldn't be? I was given all the same excuses for his behavior, but truly the issue was he felt I had power over HIM at this point. That was hardly the reality, because that isn't something I wanted. I figured out later that unless he felt like top dog when it came to our careers he wasn't happy about it.
The following interactions illustrate the verbal abuser's unwillingness to plan with his partner.
Bella thought it might be fun to go to a nearby lake on a certain Saturday afternoon. That morning she asked, "Bert, I was wondering, do you have any plans for today?"
Bert turned angrily toward her, 'Do I have to have plans?" he spit out.
"Why, no," she replied. "I was just thinking we might do something this afternoon."
"I don't see WHY I should have to have plans," he said, even more angrily.
"What are mad about? I never said you had to have plans," Bella responded.
"I'm NOT mad! Just drop it!" Bert raged. "You said plans and now you are trying to get out of it!"
Bella was left feeling confused, frustrated and upset. She wondered how she could bear feeling so badly, and at the same time not be able to discuss her feelings. She knew from past experience that Bert would keep saying she was 'trying to get out of it!'
Bella said she had felt upset inside and had spent some time wondering what she had done to upset Bert. Had she given him the impression that she had expected him to have plans? Or, had she somehow made him feel pressured to have plans, even when she hoped he wouldn't have any and would be free?
Whenever a conversation such as this would occur, there was never anyone else around to help Bella sort it out.
I remember many a time feeling as Bella did.
The "It takes two to tango!" didn't help! Looking towards what I might have done to push his buttons? I can look back now, but I honestly didn't know at the time. The advice I received made me feel worse, and there wasn't any validation towards my hurt feelings. I was constantly asked to look at my actions to see what I might have said or done to disrespect him in some fashion.
Did they ever ask him that question? You would think with the two to tango, and work on yourself speeches he might have been. He wasn't asked by them.
One thing I have learned is they see life as winning and losing. If you don't stay in that subordinate position they will use tools to make you back off. Once you are completely confused, don't wish to discuss it anymore, stopped defending yourself, get upset, leave, etc - they have won. They are satisfied. They don't need to tell anyone, and hear the speeches about two to tango and work on yourself. They got what they are after, and are completely satisfied with themselves. It makes sense as to why they feel threatened by your departure. They can't let you win, but rage out of control when they feel you are.
To most people life isn't about winning and losing to that extreme. Its not so black and white. Patricia Evans book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship truly helped me figure out what I was dealing with. I won't say I agree with EVERYTHING she says, but I will tell you it helped clear the fog! It was like reading my life, and she was there in the living room with me.
It made me question things within my faith, and the counsel I was getting. Reading the conversation with Bella, and then trying to apply the counsel you get? I suppose people could question her 'chaste' behavior, but was that really it?
Victims need to KNOW what they are dealing with in order to cope and grow from the experience. I didn't have a chance with the excuses he was given. We are both sinners. When he sins against me I need to check myself for my own sin and actions that may have made him act that way. I was basically being told lets examine every particle about you, and find that one rub. There we solved the mystery! You aren't perfect! It takes two to tango! I worked on myself in the fashion they asked me to, but things got worse. What happened? Lets examine you again! WE found that flaw - you aren't perfect!
No wonder I was confused and lost. I can see why some churches may be threatened by secular information! Its sad I had go outside the faith to wake up and smell the reality. I don't think they me wanted to. I wonder if they enjoyed the 'Power Over' concept as well. Hmmmm. I highly recommend Patricia's book for clarity. If you are man that is a victim I was still recommend it. To me she is talking about the dynamics of an abusive relationship, and no matter WHO you are most of the concepts apply. I had a couple of readers that were males, and told me it gave them the same wake up I got! LOL! To cool! LET THE HEALING BEGIN!
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