Q & A with Jocelyn about Woman Submit!

 What is the book, Woman Submit!, about?

Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence is about saving lives and helping Christian women (and those they are most likely to turn to for help) navigate a dangerous and hellish situation.

This book provides biblical answers to the abused Christian woman’s most perplexing questions. It was also written in hopes of inducing compassion for battered women. Right now, stray animals are garnering more compassion from our communities than battered women. And the most dis-compassionate group seems to be the Christian community, the very place Christian battered women will turn first for help.

Q: How difficult was it for you to write Woman Submit? 

A: Very difficult. I share in the acknowledgments section of the book that "The subject of domestic violence is not a subject I would normally choose to immerse myself in. God knows it is only by His grace that I was able to complete this work at all. I set it down and allowed it to collect dust far too often while burying myself in other projects." 

When I finally got serious about writing the book, I began going through my journals and found that I had already written a rough draft of approximately ten chapters, which is how many chapters the finished book has. Most of what went into the first draft had been written over a period of several years while still living in the crucible of abuse.  

It was an emotionally charged project for me, but I felt a calling and a burden to speak up and to do it quickly. It took me almost four years from the events described in chapter one to write and publish Woman Submit! During the interval, according to 2005 FBI statistics, over 4000 women died from domestic violence.

Q: You are a formerly battered wife, why did you stay in the marriage past the first instance of violence?  

A: I stayed for the same reasons as so many other battered women: fear, social isolation, economic reasons, and I loved my husband. i wanted to make the marriage work. I wanted things to get better. As a Christian woman, the most compelling reason I stayed was because I did not want to commit sin by divorcing my abusive spouse.

Indoctrinated in gender-based submission theology, I followed the counsel of respected Christian leaders who counsel against divorce at all cost--even in the case of wife-beating--so, I continued to hope and pray for my marriage and to seek solutions other than divorce.

Christian women are consistently counseled to submit to abusive husbands. Is it any wonder they are confused about the importance of their own safety? The more appropriate question should be directed at Christian leaders who justify advising endangered women to return to violent homes.   

Q: Why do you think men beat their wives? Do you believe the doctrine of wifely submission, as taught within many evangelical churches contributes to domestic violence among Christians?  

A: Absolutely. The doctrine of male-headship is despotic and abusive in and of itself. It leads men to believe it is their God-given right to exercise authority over their wives. This logically leads to problems with abuse when they attempt to assert this authority—especially with men who already have power, control, and unresolved anger issues. In others, it creates power and control issues, which then lead to anger issues when wives don't submit the way husbands want them to. 

I might also add that the way the doctrine of submission is commonly dealt, within complementarian circles, effectively shifts the blame for abuse from the abuse to the victim. This happens when wives are told that if they react submissively to their husbands' abuse, their behavior might change.

Q: I saw on your media page that your book might be considered controversial in some circles.  Give us some idea of why?   

A: The answer I gave to the previous question is the main reason. Throughout the book I challenge traditional perceptions of battered women and how the issue of domestic violence is perceived by Christian leaders and the public in general.

I call into account Evangelical Christian leaders who have tragically disappointed abused and battered wives within their congregations. Careless counsel coming from countless pulpits and from leaders with incredible influence (due to television, radio, internet, and best-selling books) has ruined and cost the lives of far too many women. 

This must stop.

Q: If a woman experiencing domestic violence called you for guidance today, what would you tell her? 

A: I would assure her that nothing is more important than her physical safety. I would advise her to get to a place of safety immediately. I would encourage her not to worry herself, at the moment, with the burden of making long-term decisions concerning the future of her life and marriage. She can do that once she is safe and the crisis is over. I would advise her to call her local victims assistance office (many counties have these associated with the police or sheriff's offices), so she can be directed to resources in her area. 

Q: If a family member or friend of a battered woman called you for advice, what would you say? 

A: First, I would advise them not to underestimate the danger their friend or loved one may be in. Second, do not put conditions on your assistance, such as only helping if she promises never to go back. Open your heart to her unconditionally while you offer her support. Show her the support and respect she needs and deserves. This will strengthen her more than you know. 

Also take into account their own safety. Sometimes it is perfectly safe for a battered woman to move in with a friend or family member for a while. Other times, it may be safer for all involved if she went to a shelter. 

Q: What are your goals for this book? 

A: First and foremost, to save lives. In the United States, over 1000 women are beaten to death each year by their husbands or male companions. I should be included in those statistics. I should be dead, but by the grace of God I am not. As I said earlier, over 4000 women died in the four years it took for me to write and publish this book, and before you go to bed tonight, at least 3 more will be added to that number.

My hope is that, by sharing my experience, insights and research, a greater understanding of the dark arena of violence against women will serve to generate compassion for battered and abused women within our midst--and that Christian women will more consistently be given life-saving counsel rather than counsel that keeps them in the danger zone.


Amazon.com: Woman Submit! : Christians & Domestic Violence eBook : Andersen, Jocelyn: Kindle Store

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