But he doesn’t look like an abuser! Are abusers identified only by appearance, career or social status? Of the countless times I would confide in fellow church members that I was seeking prayer and support, how often I heard, “oh Charles can’t be abusive because he is an executive. He drives a Mercedes and wears expensive clothes.” As the lyrics of the song “what does love have to do with it”, well what does appearance have to do with it?
A huge component of Charles’ persona was his image. That was his rationale when he required us to move to the smaller, but more expensive home; appearances of prestige and success. That is the reason he mandated I work outside the home and he would dictate what expenses I must cover so that he could purchase Mercedes vehicles (trading frequently for newer models).
I was commanded to take a jobs requiring travel and working week-ends. I loathed being away from my home and family, but I would learn over the years, my time away allowed Charles to develop relationships with our children and others whereby I would be excluded. With his commands on what I would do with my payroll check, he hid money which I never learned about until years later and which I would never receive even a portion of.
As I came home one Saturday, our young son excitedly said, “guess what Daddy bought today?” I had not yet seen his purchase. Chris was thrilled to tell me it was a Mercedes. As I sobbed, I said, “you force me to work outside the home so you can go and purchase a luxury car?”
For years, I pleaded to remain a full-time wife and mother, but each request was denied. Charles always stated, “you need to work.” I didn’t need to work, but this is a trait of financial abuse. I was obligated to be employed so that he could spend what he deemed “his money” for his desires. Until the day he left me in 2012, he declared the home and all our joint assets were “his.” No, they were ours, for as a young couple whom married at age 21 and 22, we acquired everything we had as a couple. We had no inheritances of financial or monetary assets.
As I stated in my recent blog on DV, with the “Me Too” movement more people are realizing that status in life and appearance has nothing to do with the desire to control, manipulate, humiliate, intimidate and harm another person. In my situation, it was imperative that Charles was always in absolute control; in his career, his home and most especially with me. This had nothing to do with biblical submission which our church touted frequently to the wives and women of the church. I was in submission, doing as he required. However, being physically and emotionally abused is not a component of submission.
While accompanying Charles on a business trip only months before he left me, one of his colleagues introduced himself and queried whom I was. Before I could reply, Charles cited, “she belongs to me.” The surrounding colleagues chuckled, but I knew what he meant. I was merely property to him. I had been from the day I became his wife. I was never viewed as his “other half”; God’s intention for our spouses. I was merely someone that brought him an income, maintained his home, cooked the meals, ran his errands and cared for his children. I was never deemed “his wife.” Ephesians 5:25 NKJ25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,