“Please don’t hit me...” she whispered amidst tears, avoiding the eyes of her abuser as he made a fist to sock her in the face. She was used to this. A girl, tender in age and young at heart, had fallen in love with a man who used the Bible to justify hitting her. A fanatic, over-zealous type, he spent many-a-day reading the word of God, picking and choosing verses that he would eventually use against her sins. What were her sins? 1) She giggled a lot. 2) She listened to hip-hop music. 3) She painted her nails.
I’m not too sure if any of you have picked up a Bible recently, but let me save you some time. There is nothing in the Bible that justifies blatantly oppressing women to the point of worthlessness. There is nothing in the Bible that justifies hitting a woman because she giggles more than the average person. In fact, the Bible encourages having a joyful spirit. What was wrong with giggling? In her abuser’s mind, the victim’s constant giggling showed her lack of seriousness and peace of mind. There is nothing in the Bible that justifies using this Holy Book as the abuser’s very same object to inflict a scar on her shoulder because she listened to hip-hop music. In fact, the Bible encourages song and dance; I could probably list about fifteen verses off the top of my head right now that support my statement. What was wrong with hip-hop music? In her abuser’s mind, the hip-hop artists had lifestyles that he didn’t agree with, thus punishing his victim for her poor choices in music. Anyone else see something wrong with this picture? There is nothing in the Bible that allows an abuser to kick his victim in the abdomen as she’s laying on the floor, helpless and hopeless, because he noticed that her nails were painted a light pink color. In fact, the Bible even shows us how Solomon praised his love’s beauty and her adornments.
The Bible promotes love, not hate. The Bible promotes compassion, not a hardened heart. The Bible promotes mercy, not persecution. The Bible promotes kindness, not cruelty. The Bible promotes protecting, not attacking others. The Bible promotes forgiveness, not accusation and blame. The Bible promotes encouraging, assuring, and covering, not intimidation, warning, and bullying. Newsflash: if you’re using the Bible for anything else but love, you’re using it in the wrong way.
At first, the victim refused to succumb to his requests. She’d rather stand up for who she was – a bubbly, giggly, creative, colorful girl, and did not want to change for anyone. After all, her independence and sense of self were strong, unique, well-liked, and accepted by 99.99% of humans. [Note: the .01% equals unreasonable humans, much like the abuser in this situation.] After a while though, she lost her sense of self. Her eyes no longer sparkled like diamonds. She stopped being true to her character, quit dancing lessons, cleared her iTunes and browsing history from any type of song that might enable her to be abused, hid all her accumulated nail polish bottles under her bed, and even made sure to not even crack a smile in front of her abuser. She was mute on the outside, yet screaming and crying for help on the inside. One day, her abuser found that box of nail polish. He dragged her by the hair, slammed her against a wall, and punched her in the stomach. This was the beginning of her freedom. While she refused to report this incident/press charges because she had a merciful heart, she did make it quite clear that their relationship was over. At first, she shrugged it off and tried to go on with her everyday life. It succeeded for quite some time until she realized that she harbored feelings of self-hatred for falling in love with someone who was capable of abusing her. She realized that she no longer was able to trust, be open and honest in familial and personal relationships. Above all, she knew that the smile she plastered on her face each morning was a fake one; a smile that was wiped away and replaced with tears when she was alone.
Hey, has anyone else noticed that at times, the more fanatical a person is, the more hypocritical he/she tends to be? I tend to believe that fanaticism parallels hypocrisy. Consider a person who is an avid believer in a religion that requires both sexual restraint and covering the faults of your neighbors with kindness and love. Suppose this person persecutes his/her neighbors because of their promiscuity, thereby attempting to appear morally superior to them or more pious and at the same time, warning others about their neighbor’s sins to the fullest extent. This person might well be described as a fanatic because of the zeal with which he or she criticizes the neighbor’s sexual morality, yet at the same time we might say that these actions betray a kind of hypocrisy, in that the person falls short of the requirements of neighborly love and covering their sins which his/her own professed religion calls for. So, this person is a fanatic and a hypocrite at the same time! Sure, hypocrisy can be found in the person who has no commitment to principle, but also in the self-righteous moral fanatic. [I smell a new blog post on this topic….coming to you soon!]
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Plato knew what he was talking about. The next time you judge someone for his/her actions, perhaps you should take a step back and realize that something much deeper might be at the root of why this person acted a certain way. The next time you chastise a person for living in his/her "own little world", perhaps you should take a step back and realize that this world was created for his/her own protection and security. The next time you verbally reprimand someone for his/her lack of openness and honesty, perhaps you should take a step back and realize that in some circumstances, it might take YEARS for someone to gain trust, be 100% open, and find faith in a friend again. The next time you wonder why someone acts worried, fearful, defensive, or apprehensive in a relationship, perhaps you should take a step back and realize that there might be something that has been plaguing this person for years.
This girl is currently in law school. She’s kept her silence for very long, providing the usual, “It’s a lucrative career and I love legal studies!” answer to those who ask what her motivations were for embarking on such a demanding yet well-respected and much-admired path. Little do people around her know…that her main motivation was to empower herself and others through the vast amount of knowledge and legal protection that our wonderful legal system provides. Little do people know that law school provided a security blanket for her; a sense of peace that she wasn’t able to find until she was enrolled. She’s on her way to trusting people more, to finding and maintaining real friendships, and to embarking on romances based on respect, equal sacrifices, honesty, love, and lack of paranoia.
Readers, there’s a time and a place for everything: now is her time to shine. Cheers to her voice. Cheers to her strength. Cheers to finding herself once again. Cheers to her.
I hope I helped you further find your voice. Written with love, honesty, contemplation, and permission.