L.E. is a survivor of domestic violence whose trauma was compounded by the way that her church handled her situation. In this poem she describes her experience when she tried to obtain help from her church.

Guest blogs are invited to stimulate thought and comment. They do not necessarily reflect the view of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence.

What Happened When I Told

He’d laugh and wind my hair in his fist at the nape of my neck, push me up against the wall or hold me down on the bed. If I moved my head it felt as if my neck would snap.

He’d slam on the brakes suddenly in the middle of traffic. The kids in the back, horns honking, tires screeching. I’msorryI’msorryI’msorryJustgoI’msorry

Bitch!

Doors kicked in. Items thrown. Growling, teeth grinding.

Held in place against my will. Blocked.

Not speaking to me…for weeks.

When I told…

…your expression didn’t change. What I told you was horrendous, but you didn’t react. You wanted to hear both sides. Did he leave marks? A bruise? Sometimes, you asked me to examine my heart to see what I’d done wrong I’m a sinner, too.

You talked about suffering and Christ, and how he helps us endure.

You told me in the end I could leave, but I would not have your support. The situation was complex and no one could decide, except that I did not have ecclesiastical reasons for leaving.

You quoted Scripture.

You were men to whom I had vowed before God to submit. Just like him.
You made me listen to you. Just like him.
You countered my words. Just like him.
You minimized what happened. Just like him.
You made me feel as if I didn’t have any choices. Just like him.
You became frustrated by my reactions to you. Just like him.
You controlled the narrative. Just like him.
I gave you power. Just like I gave him.
When I left, you didn’t try to stop me. You didn’t even watch to make sure I found my way. Just like him.

I went to you for protection. I wish now I had just gone away.

I wish now I’d never told.

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