Again, I have waited 33 years to say this.
That is a long time to consider all my own prejudices, experiences, and to come to some kind of well balanced conclusion, including forgiving myself, and others.
Meanwhile, how many more women, children in traditional families, and others, have endured abuse from some of their own supposedly loving family members? We live in the USA, and we have lived here almost all our lives. So, we know the ways of those who pretend that they speak for all of us victims, and survivors, and yet don't. Too often, religions are involved and not every person desires to leave all their beliefs behind as they grow into freedom from abuse and oppressions. Many of the well educated in my country even pretend to have studied our own kinds of Victimology, while missing the whole point, entirely. What our world and nations need is to hold abusers, enslavers of any humans, accountable. We know the thoughts of feminists, both male and female, as they pretend to have helped us all. What is true is that, sometimes, they have helped. And we are always grateful for what good they can and have provided. However, too often, they have actually made our lives worse in assuming that all the patriarchial religions and societies are inherently evil. They aren't. Standing up to, and throwing off, gender based violence does not always necessarily mean leaving all patriarchy behind. This only comes about by the maturity that comes with age and wisdom.
Many of us who were once slaves to abusive men, now live because of feminists who helped us. While they built safe places for all to run to, assumptions about what we wanted too often got left behind. You see, while they were talking us into running away and leaving everything behind to find salvation from evil men (and women sometimes too), our pastors, rabbis, healthcare providers, Imams, and even counselors, too often abdicated their rights and responsibilities to us, to report what abuse family members were doing to us. Citing the fact that so many of us were "adults" does not create instant ability on our parts, to act as those feminists and ignorant others wanted us to. Our law enforcement agencies too often do the same. It can be a hard task to forgive them, as well as our abusers, knowing all these things. Worse yet, when we each lived those consequences. In my own faith, forgiving at least eventually, is always a goal. It is required of all of us. So, then, what do we do knowing so much bias still lives in what exists to supposedly help us? To deliver our kind?
In many cases, we wives and mothers lost not only our homes, and lands, but even our children, because we had no way of making our own incomes once we left gender based violence behind. The traditional conservative heterosexual nuclear family is not made for M-F, 9-5, moms working outside the home. Sure, some have been able to make that work inside a traditional model. Often, that was because they were trained before such gender violences began. Many others, raised in patriarchy found their calling and satisfaction, otherwise. For those of us who studied our various holy books, especially those among us who could not find schooling that accomodated our beliefs, and values, secondary educations was not always possible. This is even more true in the case of those among us now physically disabled and also the religious woman. Among our own kind (Messianic Nazarenes), it is not even well known to the males, in the various leaderships, how a woman in religious offices might manifest. In other words, what does her job even look like? The feminist who worked so diligently to gain us this freedom, too often is appalled that we still choose our God.
We know that our feminist Atheist sisters don't consider it, too often, even an important question or dilemma to work out. That of continueing in patriarchy to be part of wise decisions, as we precede into freedoms from oppression and violence, but we do. Too often our faith's questions, while going through this deliverance from gender violence is ignored. It is our right to chose to continue to practice our faith and worship our God even while making such decisions for as to whether to separate from our own husband, or to accuse him publically, in courts. Even more so the victim who publicizes fathers or uncles. One of the most common, and (I find) offensive questions we get asked way too often is about wives who stay in their homes with abusers. "But God doesn't want you to be abused" is what I am told, far too often. As if that thought is even a logical assumption, that He wants us abused. That remark always tempts me to swear. After that, I want to say, "What does that have to do with the dilemma of a wife whose husband abuses her?" Of course our God doesn't want His beloved to be abused! Who ever said He does? We're pretty sure that He wants the abuser to quit it, like, yesterday. That's why our Pastors, and Rabbis, and Imams, here in the USA have telephones. As do our doctors. That is why our police have them too. So that they can take reports and do their duty to save us. "Oh, but she's an adult." Again, "Nice deducing, Watson. What's your point?" I always want to ask ignoramus's like that, "Just when did you first notice that one?" Or, "What does it have to do with the subject, at hand?"
It would really help if people would stop diverting the conversation away from the subject at hand. Which is, the someone (or someones) who are a victim of either domestic violence or sexual assault in the home. Sexual violence is a form of physical abuse, hence, in the home, it is also domestic violence. This is an important fact. Sure, there are sexual assaults, and gender violence, that happen outside the home. Our law enforcement departments need to figure out how to investigate both. It's not our problem to figure out. It is theirs.
It's the same type of question we get from far too many, asking us "If your God is so loving, how come there are starving children in Africa." The question should be, "Why are all those Presidents, and Kings, and Generals, in those African countries, not accountable to anyone for stealing and selling the grain and other provisions so generously sent to help those poor starving people?" Or "Who died and made the USA God?" How many of those supposed domestic violence victims' advocates truly help us? No, they "listen" to us, instead. Because, 21st Century Psychology has taught them (and many of us) that we need to "vent" our emotions. I really don't know who invented that lie, the one that says people need to vent their frustrations, anger, etc. We need solutions. Everyone needs solutions. Venting is what one does to endure. It's not a solution. The other thing that most healthcare professionals, clergy, and Crisis Line workers do is wait for us to convert to the same "woke" state as themselves, and "see the light," convert to feminism or to Psychology and leave the abuser. The problem with that being that feminists too often can be just as oppressive and abusive as any patriarchial abuser. The methods are as yet not well known. Most of the time, feminists and crisis line workers just leave victims in said abuse until they will convert. Then, they report what's happening to the victim, and then the rescue begins. That's a horrific thing, forcing conversions to feminism and/or Psychology in such ways. Making it forced conversions. Causing conversions and divorces by forced duress, which is illegal in the USA.
Yes, forced conversions to Psychology happens every day, as an everyday occurence, all day long, in the USA and most of the English speaking countries. Or did they deceive us into becoming as they are, instead? Domestic violence prevention "experts" commonly use a "wheel of violence" or "wheel of abuse" circle. It's a circle drawn on a piece of paper that shows supposed progression from anger to violence with stages of behavior inbetween. Turns out, once a woman stays with those who use such tactics, if she doesn't obey the "advice" given to her, they often use the same tactics on that wheel to her. It also turns out (though feminists don't warn you) half or more of what is depicted on that wheel of violence is not even illegal! Which means, you can call it abuse, however, a judge won't. Surprise! Yet, since sometime in the 1980's, Christian pastors and Jewish rabbis have been abdicating their responsibilities and literally handing abused members of their congregations over to advocates like that. Then, they just write their own people off, unless they come back to haunt them with what they did to them.
We know the feminist. We know the options, here, for victims of domestic violence, and those in all in the English speaking countries. I have been a religious Women's Minister for all those 33 years. I have been the wife. I am the daughter whose father would not take her back in. I am the single mother of a toddler, on the run, now in a home of my own. I am the widow. I am the sister who had brothers. I had uncles. I had friends. I know how my country truly wants to act to save us but most of all, I know all that my country and religious leaders did not do that which they could have, and should have done. I know that I speak for some of the Islamic women, too, both here and abroad. I know I speak for Jewish wives and women. I know that I speak for Christian women, for Catholic wives, for Messianic women too. I even speak for some in the LGBTQ people in gay marriages or partnerships. Because as the traditional marriages are broken apart here in the USA, and in so many other nations, "the solution" to D/V (domestic violence) it is not the only solution. There are a whole lot of things that can be done to save both the victim and the marriage or partnership. Lots of things. Things that are already what should have been done for all these last 33 years, for me and my kind and all in traditional families. It is not a matter of just one way for all. Or one way for us and another for the "more enlightened" people. What works for us, may very well work for those in LGBTQ partnerships too because some of it is just common sense solutions, for all. The rate of D/V in LGBTQ marriages now climbs as fast as it did in the traditional heterosexual marriages, once divorces became easy to get.
The solution of the feminist movement was only one way of setting an abused wife, with or without children, free. It is right that safe houses were created, to run to. Yet, that was only the beginning. They should exist in every country, whether for the hired foreign maid, or for the supposedly honored wife, daughter, or mother. What is wrong with it all is it cures little besides possibly setting the abused person free. In most cases it only saves her, or current victim. Rarely is the abuser or rapist stopped. In some cases, former victims are given education and help to find jobs so as to turn into her own head of her new smaller family. To become her own bread winner. Time in a safehouse can be, or is time to heal, if that is possible. There really is not healing for domestic abuse or sexual abuse victims without safety. In some cases it gives time to restore a spouse to her first family. Just because such fathers or uncles are far and few between doesn't mean they don't exist, given she has some time to collect her thoughts.
One thing everyone reading this should know. I began to report "known or suspect abuse" of women, and sometimes (rarely) children, in the late 1980's. It then changed to anyone being abused. I can only remember one time that police did not mistreat me, as a result. Only one time did I refrain from reporting a man I knew to be raping his wife. His pastor had known for 6 months before the wife told me about it, over dinner. Instead, I reported that pastor to his senior pastor and assorted pastor's in the community, and to the proper authorities. It was a long time ago. The husband was raised in another country with different customs. I think in all that time, only one man repented on my confronting him about abusing a family member. It has cost me dearly loved family members of my very own to hold this position. It hasn't come cheaply. It resulted in my having to start up our own Messianic Nazarene denomination. That too, hasn't been easy.
In some communities, medical care is given to the victims. This is good as long as it does not merely turn her into some doctor's slave instead. We have seen, and still see, many such victims become slaves to lives under psychologists and/or psychiatrists. When the real "mentally ill" person is the one who abused her into such a state. It does not end there. Many a daughter or son has much the same roads to recovery too. To help someone with medicines is one thing and if it's the right medication for them, great. However, only the very few need those prescriptions to be written by a full fledged psychiatrist. It is true, some minds of some victims will never recover to the point of being able to acquire food and shelter for themselves or their children. Some of this depends on how long domestic abuse or sexual abuse went on. To label the victims with psychiatric curses is not a good solution, unless they went and became abusers, themselves. Some do. It's a known fact that most who abuse others more helpless than themselves endured great abuses, themselves. Yet, not all who were abused turn and become like the sadist who did such things to them. It helps no one to assume once a victim, always a victim. Or that once a victim they'll end up abusing too, themselves. We must rid ourselves of every bias, of every kind to help them. That includes the lesbian escaping her abuser, and the gay man, or the trans person, the bi person, all of them. Any of those who once were the same, tell us it must be so, too.
What is being left out is law enforcement. Laws changed in my country all during this 33 years' worth of time that I have had to stage or pulpit to voice the real problem. Spousal rape is outlawed in most of the USA now. So, why does it still exist? For the same reason domestic abuse happens in the first place. Because it can. Why do thieves still steal all around the world, in every nation? Because they can. If they couldn't, they wouldn't. The same is true of the domestic abuser and home rapist. It happens because some know how to do it. Maybe some are even taught from an early age how to get away with it. Or how to do it better. The same truth is how abusing of other people happens. What better place than in the privacy of a man's own home for him to abuse? One partner gets the upper hand and it can happen. In a good partnership, or marriage, it doesn't happen. As well as know, not every marriage or partnership turns out to have been a good one.
So, the feminists created no fault divorce and safehouses. Everyone can just get a divorce after first removing the abuser from the home or by running away to some safe place. Yes. That now is an option, and has been, for many years in the USA. Actually, it depends on which US State once lives in. And in many other first world nations, all these "freedoms" exist now. The feminists can sit back and pat themselves on their backs, right? No, not really.
Our Christian and Jewish pastors and rabbis deferred enmasse, to these D/V and S/A "specialists." Even to the point of having victims advocates teach the police and law enforcement how to "interview" new victims of rape both in the home and out of it. They taught them all sorts of things. Even our FBI too often seems to know no better than to have men interrogating female victims of rape and sexual assault. The rights and considerations of those of us who were raised in, lived in, or still chose the traditional marriage roles, rarely happens. It is a right to religious choice that rarely gets honored. Running away is not justice, already. Let me say that again. It is not justice for the victims to make the victim have to run away from their own home. This is never more true than when children live in that home also.
Intolerance for traditional marriages and home is the norm in the whole of the Gender Violence solutions. Of course, somewhere on this earth there does exist a ministry or program that does honor some group's patriarchial religious beliefs, while saving women and children's lives. However, it's not at all the norm. Not by a long shot.
Now that I've lamblasted this one sided and very skewed solution, what do I suggest? Well, let's work within religious women's faiths and what freedoms are in her faith's scriptures. I know Christian, some Jewish, and Messianic, beliefs. I am not proficient with Islam's, but I do know that if she's in a patriarchial faith, male family members have responsibilities. Look to them. When a husband mistreats his wife, what about her own brothers, father, uncles? When a father mistreats his own child, does he have brothers? A father, himself? Since these are most often in religious communities, take it to the head of that group the abuser attends. Are there no Elders in that group?
And most of all, what are the laws of the locality and nation, wherein the victim lives? For example, spousal rape is illegal in most of the states of the United States. We also have laws outlawing it when doctors, therapists, clergy, and primary school teachers do not report known abuse. Most of thoses laws include even suspected abuse. It goes further. We outlaw it when "vulnerable people" are abused also.
Then, we come to law enforcment. It's not happening. I know of a wife who reported spousal rape to, first, her nurse practitioner. That NP was required by the laws of her State to report it to the "proper authorities." These systems and solutions break down because there's no enforcement. The punishment for not reporting is that it's a misdemeanor law infraction. In all my 33 years, I have never even so much as heard of any prosecution of any mandated reporter of domestic abuse or spousal rape. They seem to be somewhat responsible when the victim is a child. It is a well known fact that abused mothers have their children taken from them because "well, she's an adult too, you know" which totally disregards her known faith and it's tenents regarding any options she may have to separate from her husband or divorce him. As if... arresting the bum isn't a legal option?
Of course it is! Police officers are hired and then trained at great expense. They are given motor vehicles, guns, tasers (in some places), handcuffs, special education on D/V and S/A, radios, kevlar vests, and helmets. Abused women and victims are given a phone number and in some cases a ride to a safehouse. She is told a list of things to make sure to bring with her, such as birth records, social security numbers, any name change documents... it's quite the list. Remember any prescription medications you or the children might need. Oh, and remember to bring a change of clothing too. The reason rape is consider a felony is because it damages the person raped. Then, after all their special training, even the victim's advocates assume a raped wife can remember it all and orchestrate gathering all she needs along with making sure to do it hidden from the rapist she literally is living with. All of must not only be done, she must do it, damaged, and most of the time, single-handedly. All becaue her own father too believes that once married the wife signed up for "putting out" whenever and however her husband decides. She has a roof over her head and food and clothing, "What's her problem, anyway?" Then, victim's advocates, along with police officers, sit and wait for her to leave. While no one prosecutes her doctor who didn't report what she was clearly informed of. No one prosecutes the Pastor, or Rabbi, or Imam, who not only knows, but they've known or 6 months or more. Usually, in the USA the conservative spiritual leader has the husband go to special classes to learn how to "understand" his wife's need for romance (like that's true) with the goal of better seducing the wife. They now assume all marriages began on the basis of romance with a common sexual attraction. That's how the secular community does it. The world still does more arranged marriages than western style ones.
In Catholicism, Islam, Conservative Christianity of all kinds, Conservative to Ultra Orthodox Judaism, and many other lesser known religions, sexual activities and romance between married partners is allowed. And it is not allowed outside of one's own marriage. Hence, adultery is a great sin. In Islam premaritial sex is more than frowned upon. Judgement can be swift from family members or leaders, for breaking those boundaries. And yet, a wife can tell what horrors she endures on a regular basis, for even decades, and people sit and wait for her to leave, because "she's an adult." Like that absolves them of their own "criminal neglect"? If we can create no fault divorce for all the secular people, why nothing for the religious communities? If we can make what an abuser does to their victim a felony, why then do we act like the victim isn't harmed and in need of help? Why do we not arrest and prosecute the alleged abuser and then give that alleged abuser "due process of law"? If it can't be done in the USA after 33 years of working and witnessing it's great lack, how can we expect it to work once exported to places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait?
Accountabity became a great push socially back in the 1990's and late 1980's in the USA. Men with sick proclivities, wanting to save their own marriages, and their wives, chose to become accountable to male leaders, in churches and outside of them, too. Yet, too often, no one then held the one who was to hold others accountable, accountable when they didn't fulfill their obligations. The foundations of all these relationships were skewed. Sure, anyone can repent, in any of the faiths I've mentioned in this. All those religious groups desire members to repent of their written down various types of sin. And it should be incorporated into any plan a time, small, for abuse to end. There are, can be, and should (in some cases) be, times of separation. Especially if one needs the hospital. We all believe in repentence and forgiveness. Still, all these groups also have incorporated into their writen doctrines allowances for group separation from one who mistreats others so badly the victim must be hospitalized, or in recover for weeks or more. It's the basis of the US concept of "due process of law" that gives back to the victim their true rights and honors their value as a human being too. This is never more pertainent then when the victim now has permanent physical or mental disabilities. In the Jewish Torah, the man who raped his wife may not ever divorce her. That Torah is the exact same thing as the first 5 books of any Christian's New Testament.
We have yet to even begin to honor victims in patriarchy properly. Too often, what has happened is a simple reverse prejudice, making matriarchy rule instead. That assumes (most of the time) that womens' rule is kinder, genter, more peaceful as a goal, than patriarchy was. It's not true. What that is, instead, is female supremacy. Women rule (most of the time) in different ways than males do, not better. Any one woman might rule better than the last guy did, but it's not true as an overall concept. Just as all the while, in patriarchy, there have been and still are, male who do a good job, fair and equitable, over their own homes. Some even steward religions assemblies well too. It's not about which gender will save us, it's about law enforcement. Hold the mandated reporters accountable. Hold police departments accountable when they do not save the wife known to be living in physical abuse (and spousal rape is, by defintion, a type of physical abuse). If her OB/GYN can see physical damages, and the wife admits the cause as S/A, then, the abuser needs to be arrested and the victim left in the home which now has become safe, as long as the abuser is jailed awaiting his fair trial.
Now, if this message was to get out to even a fraction of the domestic victms still living in traditional families in our world, I can just hear the kinds of attacks that will return at me. I do not care. Let me repeat that. I couldn't care less. Christians and Messianic Jews will attack me for not telling the story of our Savior, what is called the Gospel. I don't care. We do not wait for victims to convert, first. Sure, they need a Savior, we all do. And yet, it is the lack of action, even obedience to the various laws already in place, on the part of those who know the victims that needs fixing. Maybe this is the Christian and Messianic Savior's helping?
Maybe this is the One True God showing His love for wives that should be honored in His Name, being dishonord, instead? My point in mentioning God, mine or anyone's, is that is what this is all about. The faith, the religions, the belief systems of domestic violence needs to be honored. Waiting until we convert to Agnosticism, or some national Atheism, is just plain wrong. It's immoral. It's a violation of our human rights, each one of us. Religious, or not.
What if a family men is guilty, and the evidence proves that, so he does some jail time. Then, he is set free at the end of his sentence? What if we did it that way? For those who will not repent (whatever his faith), what if? Once set free, he might have then repented. Is a reconciliation possible? Reconciliation on many levels has worked in nations as recently as our own last 20th Century. A man's children's family was disrupted then at the least, they destroyed by being hauled through some lice infested "safe" house, and then Mom's financial problems and (likely) need for prescription drugs to be able to stand the process, barely survived. If they did. Mine is the solution with the least possible harm and most possible place for healing for all parties. It is her home too, you know. if that abuser admits his failings and they later want to give him another chance, well, it's biblical. It's possible in Islam too, if her parents do not interfere and make her divorce and remarry. Remarriage is rarely the right solution for an abused victim, right away. Financial aid often is. For those who believe the victim can't handle cash donations, paying the heating for her and the children is a good option, or the rent/mortgage payment. Gift cards to buy groceries and toiletries. Family can do these things too. It's never more appropriate than with newborns involved.
This new awareness in the USA of "unconscious bias" goes around 180 degrees. It is not merely the awareness that any person, of any gender (or lack of gender), any faith or belief system or lack of faith, may have been victimized. Some of them victimize others. Some never were victimized, that also is true. A victim's family has responsibilities to speak up for that victim. A victim's doctors or healthcare providers have responsibilities to help that vicitm. More so, when they know they see or hear evidence of that. Police and law enforcment have obligations and reponsibilities to the victim. States and counties, parishes and regional districts have obligations to police departments to make sure that when doctors, or clergy, friends or relatives, notify law enforcment, that information gets to that department. They then are responsible to hold those law enforcement agencies accountable for every report. To give a reason for every report not acted on and every report that is acted on and accountable for the manner of that action, and to whom. Every nation is responsible and accountable for how their regions holding those under them accountable and that they do it without bias.
In the USA, it's an important thing that all civil servants and law enforcement act without bias for all LGBTQ members. As long as the Official position of the USA is that there is no God, all their actions need to be without bias. However, just as special considerations must be in place for different type of victims, so to the belief systems of those victims. Child Protective Agencies should work with law enforcement to remove abusers (not a child, especially from their other parent) not just from the family, but also from society at large, while that abuser gets due and fair process of law. Police in every country know that some alleged victims can be proficient liars instead, with hidden agendas. Ever person accused of being a rapist or abusers deserves the same due process of law that you or I would want if it were us falsely accused.
People keep telling me that it will cost too much. What parent gets to say that as an excuse for them having neglected to provide some necessity their child had? Why then do US States and countries (like the UK) keep getting away with criminally neglecting their own? No State or Commonwealth or regional district that has a horrible official record in raising their own foster children should have any say as to the fitness of any parent within their own jurisdiction. It will only cost more because so much is being wasted already doing solutions that only show obvious preference for one type of victims, just as coercing conversions to and for female supremacists. Sure the safe houses of female supremacists are useful for all kinds of faiths and agnostics, and atheists, galore. But those that will not work with the religious woman in traditional marriages, calling for help, if conversion to psychology and feminism is not her wish. If she is left in abuse because she won't convert to their ideals it is not just illegal, it's sickeningly cruel.
It is discrimination. It is bias, It is prejudice. It's time. It is time for us all to recognize the many options that are available, that rightly should be available. If we would simply honor, and learn to work with the whole range of options already built into victims religions, so many families would be healed, not destroyed. It's time to hold law enforcement accountable for minimizing victims faiths for consciously ignoring legal options availble to them. It's time for us all to stand up for each other when victims we know of are being forced to convert to another set of beliefs than the ones they already have, through the D/V and S/A "helpers." It is time for us all to stand up when parents are coerced with the threats, or actions, of having their own or foster children taken from them, so to convert to Psychology, or any other belief system. Coercing anyone to change their beliefs is, by definition, bullying and abusive.
M. Minister, Angela L. Davis