Tag Archives: spousal rape

Louise’s Story of Spousal Rape and Pastoral Abuse

I’ve been wanting to share some of my story for a while.  And this is just a small part of it. But after reading so many stories from others of horrible abuse they suffered, I began to feel like my experiences didn’t compare and weren’t that important.  Just recently, I was talking to a fellow abuse survivor on the phone and said as much, and she urged me to get this written and share it – saying it’s important for ALL the abuse to be exposed, that there are many others who suffered abuse and think “well, it’s just not as bad as what others went through”, so they keep it to themselves.  That conversation has been on my mind, and I thought “Well, it’s not like others…who were molested or raped.” When it hit me. Yes, it is.

Only those who grew up in an IFB environment really understand how sheltered young adults, particularly young women, can be.  This is to give you a little background of how naïve a young woman I was when it happened.  We didn’t attend movies or even own a TV, and I had very little exposure to “the world”. When I was 21 years old, I was forcibly raped.  By my husband.

We were married when I was 19 and he was 18, just three months out of high school, neither of us with any sexual experience. Our Hyles-Anderson-trained pastors strongly encouraged (and still do) marrying young people off as early as possible – that’s their means of keeping young people pure until marriage.  Self-control is not really expected, particularly of men. When we’d been married just over 2 years, I was thrilled to learn I was pregnant, and then devastated 2 months later when I miscarried.

About two weeks after the miscarriage and the ensuing D&C, he decided he had “waited” long enough and demanded sex.  I began to cry and said I wasn’t ready.  That simply infuriated him and he held me down and forced himself on me.  I screamed over and over for him to stop, but it was like he had turned into someone else. When he was finished, he left me sobbing on the bed and stormed out of the house.  I felt so filthy and hurt and broken.  Still hysterical, I called my father, but couldn’t talk.  He came over and held me while I continued to sob for several hours and eventually calmed down.  My father never knew until very recently what had happened that night.

When my husband came home, both of us simply acted like nothing had happened.  In the years since, I’ve realized that’s a really common coping mechanism when you have to continue to have contact with your abuser.  And in time, the abuser even uses that against you – saying you didn’t seem very upset about it and that you’re exaggerating, or else you would have told someone. Except….I did tell someone. Several days later, I went to see my pastor and sobbed out what had happened.  He very matter-of-factly said that my husband really shouldn’t have forced me, but that he WAS entitled to sex and that I had NO RIGHT to refuse him.  Ever.  He even quoted the passage about a wife not having power over her own body.  His summation was that I was NOT raped, because it’s not rape between a husband and wife.  It wasn’t until after we were divorced a few years later that I was able to confide what happened that night to a friend.  That friend started to cry and told me I WAS raped – twice. First by the one person I should have been safe with more than anyone. And again, by the spiritual leader to whom I turned for help.   I was shocked, but slowly began to realize the truth of those words.  Since then, I’ve realized that it was not just that pastor’s coldness when he should have given comfort.  He actually blamed me for causing it, basically said it was my sin of not submitting that created the situation where he HAD to force me. And again, after that day, both that pastor and I acted as if it had never happened. When I later separated from my husband, the pastor blamed me again, saying I had contributed to the failed marriage by making  him feel less of a man by not allowing him “enough” sex.

In the years since, I’ve also realized that all the male-dominance teaching actually helped create the sense of entitlement that gave a naïve young man the sense he could just forcibly take what he wanted.  I have long since forgiven that young man.  But forgiving the pastor that condoned his actions is a long way off.


Another Twist of Scripture to Subjugate Women to Abusive Husbands

michalThroughout the twenty years I was in the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult, this next topic was one that I heard often in the preaching. Without fail, the theme of the message was that Michal was barren “as a punishment” from God for her words with David. The underlying message that was given was this:  If a wife disagrees with her husband, she will be punished by God.  This instills “fear” and causes emotional trauma to the woman because what she has to say becomes unimportant. It tells the woman that she has no say so in the way her spouse treats her. If he desires to be mean, hateful, and abusive, that she must endure it or God will punish her too.  Her desires and wants have no value in the marriage relationship and are of no VALUE WITH GOD.  This twisting of scripture places the man in a position of control and abuse that God never intended. Let’s look at this passage and hear from an expert whom I hold in much higher regard than the unlearned and secularly uneducated men that hold positions of leadership in most I.F.B. churches, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. According to Telushkin, it makes no sense to believe that God is punishing Michal for her words. Here is a paraphrase of what Telushkin talks about in his book, Biblical Literacy and then I will expound further on this subject.

“David whirled with all his might before the Lord” (II Sam. 6:14). The text tells us that Michal looks out a window and sees David dancing in the streets and despises him for it. Afterwards, when David returns, there is an exchange between Michal and David. Michal meets him after his return with anger and scorn saying, “Didn’t the king of Israel do himself honor today–exposing himself today in the sight of slavegirls . . . as on of the riffraff might expose himself?”

David responds to this verbal slap with an arrow to the heart of Michal: “It was before the Lord who chose me instead of your father and all his family, and appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel [that I danced]” (II Sam. 6:21). The chapter concludes with the verse “So to her dying day, Michal, daughter of Saul, had no children.”

Most Bible commentators generally sympathize with David; many explain Michal’s barrenness as God’s punishment for her angry words to David. But in truth, if Michal’s words were tactless, her husband’s were cruel. There is no reason to assume that God chose to punish Michal. More likely, after this brutal exchange the two never again were intimate.

— Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Biblical Literacy

One wonders, when Michal went to sleep every night in the palace, was she thinking of David or Palti, the only man who ever loved her and that she had five children with. 2 Sam 21:8,9 – “But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, . . . And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.”

No one stops to consider that Michal had been married for quite awhile before David took her from her husband! What kind of emotional attachment would she have to David by being FORCED to leave her husband and children!! The emotional TRAUMA alone is enough to chill one’s bones.  God is NOT going to punish further someone that is already suffering and is broken. If you think differently, then you do not serve the LIVING GOD that is full of compassion and mercy and love.  Michal was a broken women who was torn from her family by a King who showed no mercy,  compassion, love or care for Michal.  He did not love her. She was a tool used to keep Saul’s followers, and his enemies, at bay.  Michal, more than likely, was never intimate with David, because she KNEW he did not love her and did not care about her or her five children that she was taken from. David destroyed her marriage and family for his own SELFISH reasons.

David was human. He committed murder. He made some bad decisions. This was just one more to add to his list. BUT, to use this example in scripture to tell women that if they do not let an abusive husband have is way, that God will punish them is preposterous! More than likely, Michal did not have children WITH DAVID because she didn’t love him or want any children with him because of his cruelty toward her. And David. . . well, he didn’t FORCE himself upon her! That alone should make men realize that they DO NOT have a RIGHT to force themselves on their spouses and God does not expect women to submit to abuse.