BY IRIS COOPER, DBA
I am so sick of talking about domestic violence (DV). There was a time when I would tell no one what was going on behind the closed doors in my life. I should have received an Academy Award for my portrayal as a happily married banking executive. I had it all together on the outside, but on the inside, I was a fake and a coward. I knew I didn’t deserve to be treated like a piece of trash, but I allowed it to go on for more than 12 years. I hid cuts, black eyes, even a twisted ankle when he pushed me over the bed. I didn’t tell my mother or my friends because then there would have been a war and I could not risk their safety, let alone my own. I had to remain silent to protect my reputation, keep my family together, and to avoid more serious problems if I left.
Now, the DV topic is prevalent but there are so many competing miseries that it gets no respect. Everywhere there are women and men, there is DV, yet it is forgotten until someone new dies or is injured so badly she will never lead a normal life again. Now #MeToo symbolizes rape and/or inappropriate sexual behavior, but “me too” regarding domestic violence has been around just as long, is worse, and not just with celebrities. DV often comes with rape and sexual violence. It may appear with prison-like control over everything: money, career, children, family, communication, and even worship. I was forbidden to attend church—my only solace. Worship represented an opposing force and was too much of a threat to the control. I spent 12 years as a prisoner and as time went on, I began to have thoughts like a criminal. I had to get out before a real tragedy occurred.
I’m thankful each day that God released me safely in 1996, with my daughter and eventually my son. I spent ten years in court and thousands of dollars in attorney fees. Although years went by before I began to recognize myself again, I’m grateful that I have no physical scars from the experience. However, I am fiercely protective against any nuance of control over my behavior or actions. Maybe that’s why I am still single after all these years.
BY MELANIE HOUSTON, MA
My co-author, Iris Cooper, sees her experience with Domestic Violence (DV) from an entirely different lens than I do. First, let me say that when I began to assist Iris in writing When the Devil is Beating His Wife: A Christian Perspective on Domestic Violence & Abuse, I had no intention of being a co-author. Iris is the brainchild behind this brilliant self-help novella; I was merely a writing coach who was present to help finish a much-needed book. But I had my own DV experience and she considered my contributions valuable enough for me to serve as co-author. I found myself on an involuntary platform I had inwardly vowed to keep secret. Not even my closest friends knew.
Front and center at women’s workshops and on college campuses, I made a decision to turn the lemons into a cool drink of lemonade, looking forward to my summer shade, and like Iris, able to help women get out! Let me tell it, I see myself as a survivor, with few scars. We all know the scars exist, but I am blessed to be in a covenant marriage of almost nine years where trust is key, and my husband and I purposefully set our individual boundaries while journeying to uncharted biblical borders. I hate the misery-filled headlines but find comfort that many women get out, let it go, and move on. God’s word has given me comfort that I am a new creature in Christ, so daily I try to explore what that means for Melanie.
I want Iris to share my perspective, but that’s what makes us unique and provides balance in our approach to DV. Her lack of trust constantly makes me aware that nothing should be taken for granted and that many women are still suffering from the effects of intimate partner abuse. The headlines keep me on my toes and don’t lull me into thinking that like me, everyone and everything is gonna be alright. I sunk to a depth I thought I never would and was able to surface and swim to shore.
What is your experience? Still sinking, collapsing on shore, or reviving another victim? Holla or clap back. We welcome your thoughts.