The communications rep from the White House began her statement with, “When we saw the pictures….”
She referred to the black eye suffered by Rob Porter’s ex-wife. Displayed across news channels and social media sites, we all saw the extent of the domestic violence against Jenny.
Yet for those of us who work with women, we know physical violence is often the final humiliation.
The benchmarks of abuse occur much earlier, often with no indication that the end result will be a black eye.
- Subtle put-downs about her weight or her hair-do.
- The demand to “Submit!”
- The control of finances, so she has to beg to buy a decent pair of underwear.
- The dig in her ribs if she expresses her opinion about anything.
- Calling her “My woman,” as if she is a piece of property he has purchased.
All these red flags represent emotional abuse and often are so subtle, the wife wonders if she misunderstood. Is she crazy? Or is he so skilled at manipulation, he can make her feel it is all her fault?
One out of three women live in destructive relationships. A particularly insidious type of abuse is called “gas-lighting.” Check out Leslie Vernick’s site for more information.
After all the stories I have heard and the women I have held as they cried, my emotions have become a bit jaded. Jenny’s black eye did not surprise me.
Often the men who abuse are outstanding citizens, hard workers, faithful church members. They seem to be such “good men.”
What disturbed me most was that Jenny’s truth was not believed until pictures were shown. Her voice was not heard until there was viable proof. Why not?
Surely the #MeToo movement is teaching us we must listen to children who tell us something is wrong at school, in the gym, in the youth group—no matter how hard it is to believe.
We must also expand our response to women such as Jenny. She was the second ex-wife abused by this man. Reports had been filed by both women. Those in authority knew the truth yet refused to act on it—until they saw the pictures—until ALL of us saw the pictures and demanded accountability.
Hope begins to flicker for the Jenny’s of the world as we listen to their voices and give them permission to share their truth. Surely we can learn how to believe them and help them find a safe haven where they can heal and start over.
Even before we see the incriminating pictures, we must err on the side of caution. Because women are made in the image of God. Because our daughters live in relationships and we want them to be heard. Because all of us have a voice that needs to be respected.
Hope has spoken her truth. So has Jenny. Who is listening?
©2018 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
In March, 2018, “No Visible Scars” will be released. This is my 10th book, a novel about domestic abuse within a Christian home. Share my blog posts with your friends and be the first to read “No Visible Scars.”