By D. F. Effiong
Pastor Dave did not step up initially to my husband by holding him accountable for what he was doing. He made me write down what Canon Law said about Marriage. “A marriage which is ratified and consummated cannot be dissolved by any human power or by any cause other than death (Can. 1141), the essential properties of marriage being unity and indissolubility (Can.1056).” I wrote them down with tears rolling down my eyes. Initially, it seemed as if Pastor Dave thought I had caused some of my husband’s bad and violent behaviour. after the arrest,I filled for divorce and was told in a lengthy letter from Pastor Dave that this would go against God’s will. It was obvious that when I needed encouragement most, Pastor Dave was spending time focusing on my husband’s “salvation plan.”
I was never punched, never kicked, never slapped. I tried to be a loving and participative sexual partner and enjoyed that part of our lives most of the ime. But I was also often forced to have sex, even during the last days of pregnancies, and was pressured into doing things that made me very uncomfortable. If I resisted at all, I was accused of being ‘nonsupportive’ and would be treated to silence or anger until I would give in. According to him, I was a “bad mother,” an “inadequate wife,” and “ugly woman with a huge cave vagina,”and a “super-Christian.” It didn’t matter what I did; it was not good enough. I kept praying that God would help me become a better, more desirable wife, who never complained and increasingly bore more responsibilities. I thought if l could just be better I would be good enough to love.
On one occasion, my husband was angry with me. I can’t recall what the argument was about. But when I started to walk way from him, he tore off my gown, leaving me naked in front of our children. As usual, he justified his criminal and sinful behaviour by the inapproprite use of scripture. When he’d rape me, he would say, “the Bible says, as my wife, you don’t have control over your body; I do.” I tried talking with other spiritual leaders about my husband’s behaviour. They’d instruct me to “pray more” and to “try fasting more often.” In addition, they’d asked me if my husband was a good provider, financially. When I told them he was, they replied, “then God will fix the problem.”
There are certain outstanding myths with regards the battering of spouses in the matrimonial home. Some of which are, but not limited to;victim survivors are not to be blamed; believers cannot invariably be abusers; Drugs and alcholism should be blamed; God and Jesus Christ can make everything work, as far as being a victim, I pray and obey my abusive spouse and Satan is to be blamed. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Brief: Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001(published in February 2003), women accounted for 85 percent of victims of intimate partner violence, while men made up approximately 15 percent. Data compiled from the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2007 reported that females were ten times more likely than male victims to be sexually assaulted and nine times more likely to be raped by their partners. Males are also more likely than are females to threaten to kill their partners (cf. Al Miles, Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs to Know).
Most religious ‘moguls’ are classicists in terms of which having studied the universality and applicability of their sect’s laws have failed to give sufficient attention to history. This inattention to history has individuality, diversity and particularity as its branches (cf. Catholic Social Teaching, 1981 – present). The African patriarchal society needs particular attention and an independent outlet if domestic violence is to be curbed. In addition to this shift from classicism to historical consciousness is the shift from human nature to greater appreciation of the person as subject, as having dignity, as being social by nature (cf. Gaudium et spes). A woman like the rest of the human species has also the right to exist ‘participatively’ in a community with or without the husband’s nay or yea. There is an ever increasing need for Courts to order an abuser to psychological treatment, counselling or direction as the case may be. Measures for prevention and intervention, the provision of supportive statements, collaboration with professionals, safety planning, are few practical steps to eliminate this ‘monster.’ Enough of this shift of blame to Satan!