Domestic violence series III

I find this part of the article on domestic abuse (see two posts ago) pretty scary. Let me say upfront, as a clergyman's wife, that I think the clergy responses below are bad, naive and very, very wrong.

To quantify clergy beliefs about domestic violence and divorce, a questionnaire was sent to more than 5,000 Protestant ministers in the US.

A full 27 per cent of the clergy who responded said that if a wife would begin to submit to her abusive husband, God would honour her obedience and the abuse would stop (or God would give her the grace to endure the beatings).

Almost one fifth of respondents indicated that no amount of violence from an abusive husband would justify a wife leaving, and only 2 per cent of pastors said they would support divorce due to domestic violence.

One battered wife shared that after her husband beat her, “I went to my minister then, and his reaction was “What’s your husband’s favourite food?” and I said “Pork chops.” “What’s his favourite dress?” I told him and he said “I want you to go home and put on that dress and make him pork chops and honour your marriage vows.”

Sadly, submission does not stop abuse. In fact, it often serves to intensify it because it gives an abusive husband a greater sense of power.

A 1986 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey concluded that women who reported their abuse to authorities were far less likely to be reassaulted than the wives who submitted to the abuse and did not contact the authorities.

Research on domestic violence in fact reveals that the woman’s behaviour actually has little bearing on the abuse. That is, abusive men do not abuse because of what their wives do or not do; they abuse because of complex internal pathologies beyond the wife’s control or responsibility.