Domestic Violence

Why Should an Abusive and Violent Man Change When Married to One of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

Jehovah’s Witnesses have often encouraged women to stay with violent and abusive husbands, as brought out in this post. Their thinking is that, if a woman is submissive and loving enough to a man, he may be so impressed with her behavior that he takes an interest in her beliefs, and becomes a Witness himself. Women are encouraged to be tolerant of, not just neglectful behavior, but also of outright violent behavior, and to be loving and kind at the same time, no matter the levels of abuse they may need to tolerate.

Why should he change?

Let’s think about that question for a moment. Why should a man who is violent and abusive ever change, when married to a woman who is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses? What motivation does he have to change? The post above brings out two examples of men who did eventually change and become Witnesses, and there have been a smattering of similar examples, but these are typically the exception (if they’re even real to begin with).

I know this, because I once spoke to a local elder about the violence and abuse in my own home, and the elder admitted that, after sending wives home to abusive husbands, “some of these men were killing their wives.”

Why he said it with a slight smile, I’ll never know.

Why should he change?

Imagine for a moment that you’re a violent, abusive man who takes all your anger and frustration out on your wife every day. You may scream at her, slap her, hit her, punch her, beat her with a belt, deride her, ridicule her, insult her, and otherwise abuse her in every way imaginable. After all that treatment, does she hit you back? Does she scream back, tell you to shut up, tell you to not speak to her that way? Does she threaten to leave?

If she’s one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, not only does she not do any of those things, but she puts a smile on her face, is loving and patient, and is sure to be extra submissive and obedient.

Why should he change?

When a violent and abusive man is married to one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, very often he knows the power he has over her. He knows that she is trapped and obligated to, not only tolerate his abuse, but be loving and kind and considerate to him, as she’s trying to make a good impression on him when it comes to her religious beliefs.

He also knows that she is obligated to be obedient and submissive, and some take advantage of this by playing mind games with their wives or by being mentally abusive, telling them what to wear, how to cut their hair, exactly what groceries to buy, and so on. They do this for the sake of being abusive and of taking advantage of her and her position, and laugh at her every step of the way.

Why should he change?

Practically speaking, the men in these situations have it made. They can do whatever they want, even physically and sexually abuse their wives, and not only does she need to simply take it, but she also needs to be loving and kind and patient and submissive and obedient. Why in the world would any man change himself in that situation?

Sure, there may be occasional examples of men who feel bad about their behavior and are impressed with their wife’s patience, but these men are rare. A man who is violent and abusive and angry often has no conscience and no compassion for the person or persons he’s abusing. A woman can tolerate and respect him for decades, and it will never occur to him to change his behavior, if she even survives that long.

why should he change

For all we know, this man just beat the crap out of his wife and then raped her the night before. If this is how she responds to it, why should he change?

Why should he change?

When someone is violent or abusive, not tolerating that behavior is often the only way to get them to change. Calling the police, following through with a police report, removing them from the home, barring them from seeing their children, letting others know what type of person they are so they no longer have the respect of coworkers and extended family; these are the strongest motivating factors when it comes to getting that person to change their ways. When they face consequences for their behavior, they will change that behavior, if they’re ever going to change at all, and that’s a pretty big if.

However, rewarding his violent and abusive behavior with, not just tolerance, but love and kindness and obedience gives him absolutely no reason to change. Why should he change?  Why would he?

Why would he wake up one day and say, “Hey, you know what? I’m getting tired of being waited on hand and foot like I’m some kind of sultan, and I’m tired of having this human punching bag that walks around with a big smile on her face no matter what I say or do and that obeys me like a beaten dog, and that I can boss around, kick around, and even rape if I so choose. I’m tired of getting my own way all the time. I think I’m going to start controlling my temper, controlling my tongue, controlling my fists, and being more respectful of her needs, and tuning in to what she wants.”

If this was a cheesy Lifetime movie of the week, maybe. Real life, not so much. In real life, ask yourself, why should he change? Why should any man in that situation change? Why? What motivation does he have, why would he do that?

If Jehovah’s Witnesses truly believe that men who are abusive and violent and angry are not pleasing to god, and will not get a reward of salvation from him, why not go to his home and tell him that, in no uncertain terms? Why not tell him that he needs to change if he wants to make god happy, and if he doesn’t want god to take his life, and if he doesn’t want god to be angry with him?

Consider the mixed messages you’re sending him otherwise. He beats his wife, and she makes him bacon and eggs. He screams at her, and she rubs his feet. He leaves for days at a time without telling her where he’s going, and she only responds by asking, “Would you like something to eat?” Does this sound like god is angry with this man? How does this make a man understand that his behavior is unacceptable in god’s sight?

Why should he change?

Keep in mind that the ones who compose the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses are all men, and these men are not ones who need to live in these situations they impose upon women. They do not need to live with violent, abusive spouses, and do not suffer the consequences of that violence and abuse. They are proud to parade around the occasional, rare spouse who gives up his violent ways after watching his wife tolerate him, but you’ll never hear the experiences of the women who have suffered nervous breakdowns, hospital visits, who take handfuls of tranquilizers, and who have even left the organization because they don’t see a need to worship a god who treats their life and safety with such little value and regard.

These men never seem to think that maybe, just maybe, it might be more effective to stand up to these bullies, rather than reward their behavior. Does it ever occur to them that they might have more success in converting men and making them change their behavior if they faced that behavior head-on, instead of sending the women off to endure it? I would love to see how many abusive men become Witnesses after a male Witness stands toe-to-toe with him and tells him to his face that his behavior is unacceptable, and that if he doesn’t change, he’s going to get the same treatment he dishes out.

If you give him no real motivation to change, and reward his abusive behavior with a system that chastises the wife and tells her to be more obedient and submissive and more loving to him, why should he change?

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