Archive for September 13th, 2007

Control Freaks

September 13, 2007


I was in a meeting Tuesday afternoon when my cell phone silently buzzed in my pocket. Later, I noticed the call came from one of our folks from church, but since he didn’t leave a message I assumed the call wasn’t that important. But I was wrong.

An hour later, his son-in-law called to ask if I had heard the news that my friend’s niece had been violently murdered in Jackson that morning. At the time I was informed, the news media was all over the story: the suspect was in a car at a gas station with a gun to his head and his mother in the passenger seat while the SWAT team and police negotiators hovered around the scene. The situation eventually ended in surrender, but the most awful fact remained all too true: a beautiful 28-year-old woman had been sexually assaulted and beaten to death. By her boyfriend.

Heather’s boyfriend had only been out of an Oklahoma rehab facility for a week, that stay prompted by a prior instance where he assaulted her with some sort of hammer, requiring fifty-seven stitches to Heather’s head. But she hadn’t left him because of that, reports say. Our typical response is Why? Why didn’t she leave him? I have no knowledge, of course, but experts claim that the most dangerous time in a battered woman’s life is when she tries to leave, so maybe that was exactly what she had been trying to do? I doubt he assaulted her because she had declared her forever love. Murder generally occurs when the batterer declares with his weapons, “If I can’t have you, then nobody can.” The ultimate in control.

Domestic violence remains an epidemic in our country. In my training to be a CASA volunteer, I had the privilege of listening to experts in the field:
* I heard an unfathomable story of a lady found in a house in the middle of nowhere, whose “man” chained her to furniture each day, locked the door, and left her with no clothes and no communication every day. This happened in my area.
* I learned that batterers aren’t generally motivated by anger or violence: it is all about control.
* I learned that domestic violence is one of the few remaining taboo subjects in our world.

But what is there to do?

I heard one of the experts say something sad. He explained that one of the two major concepts he teaches in his support group for batterers is the absolute equality of both persons in a relationship, but that his biggest obstacle in teaching this is the Bible. (I was proud, however, to read THIS ARTICLE from T.D. Jakes in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who provides a refreshing church perspective.)

But what is the overall solution to a problem prompted by the lust to control? I’m wondering today…