Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Is this really how to handle abuse?

Over the past few days I have been working on a section of my novel where Susan, my main character, begins to suffer increasingly severe abuse from her mother and brother because she refuses to conform to their narrow and unreasonable religious beliefs. And I am always aware of the possibility that readers may think, 'Hey, that can't be real. People don't really behave like that, surely?'

Then I was alerted to the subject matter for study in all Kingdom Halls of Jehovah's Witnesses last Sunday, April 29th. It was an article in the Watchtower magazine of February 15, 2012 on the topic of unity in a divided household. Here is a bit snipped from that article:

living with Steve
was like walking on eggshells. He was
hot-tempered. When I started studying
the Bible, this characteristic intensified.”
What helped?
12 Selma recalls a lesson she learned
from the Witness who studied with her.
“On one particular day,” says Selma, “I
didn’t want to have a Bible study. The
night before, Steve had hit me as I had
tried to prove a point, and I was feel-
ing sad and sorry for myself. After I told
the sister what had happened and how
I felt, she asked me to read 1 Corinthi-
ans 13:4-7. As I did, I began to reason,
‘Steve never does any of these loving
things for me.’ But the sister made me
think differently by asking, ‘How many
of those acts of love do you show to-
ward your husband?’ My answer was,
‘None, for he is so difficult to live with.’
The sister softly said, ‘Selma, who is
trying to be a Christian here? You or
Steve?’ Realizing that I needed to adjust
my thinking, I prayed to Jehovah to help
me be more loving toward Steve. Slowly,
things started to change.” After 17 years,
Steve accepted the truth.
(Watchtower, 15/2/2011, page 29.)

So that's how abused women should react, is it? Be more loving towards their abusers? This is peddled in the name of Christianity by the Jehovah's Witnesses who come to your doors, folks, offering you their magazines for your edification and enlightenment.


Anonymous said...

The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society has its "Watchtower" magazine in various parts of the world. The English-to-Spanish translation is done in Puerto Rico.
In Puerto Rico, there is a rigorous law against domestic violence... LAW 54... In recent years, the Puerto Rico police has had their hands full making arrests after all the publicity that LAW 54 has received.
Knowing this, the Translation Comittee in Puerto Rico decided to change the original story... In the Spanish version of this WT article, Steve merely gets furious with Selma and Selma merely feels sad afterwards... That's a far cry from getting hit by your husband and feeling sorry for yourself.

Rob Crompton said...

Thanks, anon, for that info. I understand there are quite a few, mainly European, versions in which the story is toned down.

lizy-expat-writer said...

Rob said "the story is toned down." Whether the abuse is physical or mental, the JW reasoning still seems to be that the woman is at fault. This reminds me of a 1950 women's magazine I have which tells its readers how to prepare for hubby's return from the stressful world of real work. Do your hair, make sure you smell nice, take off the apron, get the kids into their pyjamas, and greet him with a gin and tonic. Hmmm.

Rob Crompton said...

Liz, Thanks for dropping by. Other versions of the story have it that he is furious, not that he hit her. The "advice" is still reprehensible, though.