The strange thing is I find myself totally obsessed with stories like the 400 plus women and children found in the compound of Fundamentalist LDS Church in Texas. I wondered why until I started reading stories about how these women cover up the truth of their situation, and I realize that I was not so very different from them in my ability to create subterfuge and denial. And, further more I felt I was doing it as an expression of my faith.
So, I've mentioned I have to keep fairly good and peaceful relationship tactics going with my former husband because the courts have split our children down the middle in spite of the fact that he admitted that he hit me to a court appointed psychologist. Of course, he told him that I provoked my punishment. I get to talk to him multiple times a week still, and I am aware that he still takes no responsibility for it, nor perhaps does he remember the violence and anger in our lives for twenty-two years. I know this because just this week he seemed to be asking me for an apology for disrupting his life plan. "You started it," said he, "I would have stayed until the bitter end."
I really wanted to say, "Fuck you," or at least, "Who wants bitter endings?" but instead I was stung and I laughed and said something deflective. He seems to think that my ambivalence means that I really want to reunite, when in fact, I'm just struggling not to start a fight, not to set him off on some tangent that will lead us back into a custody battle. It is an old tactic of mine -- ambivalence.
Which brings me back to the women of the polygamist cults. After 20 years or a lifetime in an abusive situation, you learn to believe that you've only got your wits to rely on and that NO BODY WILL HELP. The ability to apologize for the worlds' ills, to take responsibility for one's self becomes one's only source of pride. I can apologize for anything and totally believe it is my responsibility -- rather than be confronting or threatening. I am absolutely sure that amongst those women there are those who believe that the women who want to leave the situation are weaker because of it. Their pride in staying, in keeping whatever vows they made has become the thread upon which they survive in terms of a sense of self no matter how warped. They cannot understand a 16 year old girl who crumbles under the same pressure they've made themselves endure. They probably believe somewhere inside that she deserves the punishment because they believe they deserve the punishment because they've taken responsibility for their abusers infractions.
Yes, I know this is insane, but having done it for years myself, I can only send those beautiful mothers who are trying scrape together some kind of happiness, all of my compassion. They're wrong. I was wrong. I hope they do get out, and get more help than I got because they're in the headlines because they have the more acute situation. I am praying for them.