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Spouse Abuse

February 27, 2011

Last night I got together with some friends to celebrate my birthday.  When I drove a friend home who recently moved back into our ward, we got on the subject of which families left after she moved.  I had a little interaction with one couple and wasn’t sure what to make of the husband being literally everywhere his wife went.  She came to the women’s session of General Conference and he was watching her from the foyer.  He was in the vicinity for Enrichment activities.  He even came over when I threw her a baby shower.  I think a lot of people assumed he was controlling, but I told myself not to assume because maybe she had a severe social phobia and wanted him around in case she had a panic attack.  (I have a relative with a disorder like that, so you never know.)

No, he was controlling as heck.  My friend observed him telling his wife, “Stay there and don’t move.  You better be sitting right there when I come back.”  When she went to change clothes, he said, “You know I don’t like that skirt.  You were supposed to throw it out.”  She said, “My mother gave me this skirt.”  He said, “Well, she’s not here, is she?”  If she wore jeans, he didn’t want her ankles to show at all.  He also told people, “My wife isn’t allowed to eat after 4pm.  I can eat anything I want and not gain weight, but she stops eating at 4.”  This explained why she would quickly eat dessert at Enrichment and then glug a bunch of water afterwards, I guess to hide any traces of it.  By the way, she was incredibly skinny, so “her rule” didn’t make any sense. 

To top it off, he was my friend’s home teacher and while she was recovering from surgery, he took it upon himself to rearrange her furniture, put her TV in storage, and bag up any books or movies he didn’t find appropriate for her family.  She came out of her room and was shocked.  She asked, “Where did my TV go?”  He said, “TV isn’t good for your children.  They don’t need to watch TV.”  She kicked him out and told him never to come back.

I don’t understand how he could treat his wife like that or why she would tolerate it.  Situations like these always make me think of the nursery rhyme:

Peter Peter pumpkin eater

Had a wife and couldn’t keep her

Put her in a pumpkin shell

And there he kept her very well

Another woman still in our ward has been abused by her husband repeatedly and she let me know that she had to cancel plans with me because she had too much “emotional crap” to deal with and life was just so hard.  She said she couldn’t handle going out and would be avoiding church too because she would be more likely to cry.

I’m afraid the truth is, she’s hiding injuries until she heals.  I feel so sad and frustrated right now.  Just how bad will the last straw be?  How much more will their children have to be exposed to?  It kills me to see the violent behavior in their children.  Are these women slowly conditioned to accept this treatment or do their abusers just have an easy time spotting the ones who will accept part of the blame for their rotten behavior?

In my best friend’s ward, even when a husband said he was going for his gun, the wife took him back.  He reached for the nightstand where he kept it and she ran to their house for safety.  They called the police and they couldn’t prove that he really went for his gun.  This was a dangerous situation for my friends.  The man could have chased her over there and then she told him that is where she fled for safety.  They thought the marriage was over, but no.  She went back to him and the following testimony meeting, he got up to speak, looked at my friends, and said, “I’m glad God is our only judge.”  The wife then approached them and said, “My husband thinks you don’t like him.”

I know what my response would have been.  “Why?  Because he tried to kill you?  What’s not to like?  Do not ever run to my house again and endanger my family.”

Maybe that sounds heartless, but I’ve come to realize you can’t talk people into leaving these situations.

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