Why Did You Have So Many Children With An Abuser?

We are beginning a new series, as per a reader’s request. Sometimes, we victims forget that people who have never been touched by abuse have a difficult time fathoming what has happened. They ask reasonable questions like, “Why did you stay so long? Why did you make it look like you had a perfect marriage? Why didn’t you tell anyone about the abuse?” So . . . we will begin a question and answer format that will, helpfully, educate others about what is happening to a victim’s psyche when he or she is in an abusive relationship. 

I (Megan) have asked a dear friend and survivor, Katy, to tackle the first question: Why did you bring so many children into an abusive marriage? 

Katy is an accomplished writer and a beautiful, successful single mom of three. Read her post and be edified.

PS . . . Feel free to write in with questions and we will do our best to answer them. And now . . . Katy:

This is a question that survivors of domestic abuse face from incredulous outsiders, who haven’t experienced abuse. People who have not experienced this themselves can’t understand why a woman would #1 stay in an abusive relationship, or #2 have children once they realize that their spouse is cruel.

There are many different aspects of this question and many different answers depending on the scenario, so this will just hit the high points (if any of this could be called a “high point”).First: an excellent video TED talk given by a survivor of domestic violence on “why victims don’t leave” :
http://www.ted.com/talks/leslie_morgan_steiner_why_domestic_violence_victims_don_t_leave.html

(her talk is given from a secular perspective, to a secular audience. It’s not a faith-centric answer but it is still very true and accurate.)

Leslie is an educated and “accomplished” woman who was able to escape before having children with her abuser, but this is not the case with many. For those of us who escaped after having children, our situations are all varied. For some of us, we were so terrified of leaving that we wouldn’t dare. For others, who grew up in abusive homes, we may not know any better. And then there is the religious aspect. Those of us who come from strong faith backgrounds will have the hardest time leaving, especially if the violence isn’t extreme (or the threats are not followed through), because we are taught that God hates divorce and we are extremely committed to following our God.

I personally tried to escape after my first child was born but I had no where to run, and no one to support me. I was trapped. I had to go back. I had two more children after that before I finally was set free for good. I also happen to be a mechanical engineer with a great deal of common sense. But when I was trapped in the abuse, I was lied to every day about my worth, my intelligence, my ability to “survive without him”, and I had no one to counter those lies.
I am a different person now that I have been free for 4 years. I am the person that I was supposed to become, before my Abuser got his filthy hands around my neck. My in-laws were atheists, and when they found out about the divorce and the reasons behind it my former sister-in-law demanded to know why I hadn’t aborted my children. How dare I bring children into that relationship if it was so bad, right?
Here are some things that people need to keep in mind when questioning a survivor about her situation:
#1. Don’t assume that the woman is a fool who couldn’t figure out how to use birth control, or that she even had regular access to birth control without interference from her abuser.
#2. Don’t assume that a pregnant woman can easily throw herself up on the abortionist’s table, no matter how mean her husband has been to her.
#3. Recognize that you don’t understand what she’s just survived, and you should not insult her by implying she is stupid for having given birth to her children.  Remember that she loves her children more than her own life, just as you love yours, and that she has likely fought a hellish battle to protect them. She does not deserve scorn.
#4. Above all, when you are genuinely trying to understand a victim’s situation, recognize the great evil that was done to her, and don’t lay the responsibility for it at her feet.

There are many scenarios and circumstances that will affect someone’s ability to leave their Abuser, not the least of which are finances, family support, and cultural baggage. No one is perfect, or immune from bad decisions, or immune from being tricked by an Abuser. Everyone is vulnerable to some degree; and it is the most vulnerable that Jesus was particularly concerned for. Those that call Jesus their King will rightly concern themselves with comforting and encouraging the downtrodden, rather than condemning them for not being smart enough to avoid a wolf. (Remember that you may get trapped by a wolf at some point, too, and desperately need someone to come to your aid.)

Katy

2 Replies to “Why Did You Have So Many Children With An Abuser?”

  1. Katy . . . This is excellent and I thank you so much for guest-blogging for us. This question was a difficult one and one I have heard several times. How to I explain to someone that I wanted to have children because I wanted to be a mother? Would I let him ruin that for me, as well? God has put in us women a desire to nurture. You aren’t thinking that you are going to divorce . . . you are hoping things are going to get better . . . you do not want to give up your child-bearing opportunity because your husband is being abusive. Furthermore, I would never utter the words “abuse” until after I had left. I did not realize that what was happening to me was not normal. It had become my “normal”. Finally, FOR ME, I was entrenched in the Southern Baptist seminary mindset and church that was telling me that birth control was murder . . . that children were a blessing from the Lord and that it should not be stopped. I honestly bought in that all of that. 🙁 I am glad for all four of my children, however. They are my four gifts . . . my four angels . . . who heal my heart and delight my soul. As hard as it was to bring them into the world of coldness and aloneness .. . it is that way no longer.

  2. Yes, that is another scenario/set of circumstances that is equally binding. Everyone’s situation is slightly different, thanks for pointing that out Meg 🙂

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