Veronica’s leaving Steve was unacceptable. Donning his best Dr. Jekyll persona, Steve diligently pursued both Veronica and her son, trying to convince them that he had repented of his behavior, was getting help, and had changed.
Although Veronica preferred to witness this change for herself, she faced a more imminent challenge–finding a home for her and her son. Steve perceived their dilemma and used it to get her back sooner than she had wanted.
Not long after Veronica returned to Steve, he reverted back to his old behaviors. He insulted her, saying and doing things to degrade her and destroy what little self-esteem she had left.
‘When we would go out together in public, Steve would spot attractive women and comment on how good-looking they were. He’d make off-color descriptions about their body parts. Sometimes he’d even go as far as verbalizing crude sexual remarks. Not only was I his wife, but a minister who served the Lord. This was devastating.
‘I regretted going out with him. I felt he would find a reason to humiliate me. I’d spend the rest of the evening trying to figure out what I did wrong.’
In addition, Steve frequently used Veronica’s faith against her. He knew she was a godly woman and wanted to be pure before the Lord. He’d quote scriptures out of context and use them against her. He would emphasize her need to forgive him because according to the Bible, God forbids harboring unforgiveness. With awe, Veronica said, ‘I’d be afraid to treat someone like that, distorting scriptures as a means of manipulation and control.’
Steve would unleash his anger and resentment toward Veronica in obvious and obscure ways. Whether it was pushing her away from him as if repulsed or angrily forcing her to her feet during worship and prayer, she remained perplexed.
‘I didn’t understand. I’d grown so accustomed to his unpredictable ways that I’d just think, ‘Here we go again.’
‘He kept blaming me for his actions, telling me over and over again, ‘This is all your fault.’ So I was careful of all of my actions and words. I just wanted peace in our marriage.’
One day, Steve packed his bags and left. During this second marital separation, someone told Veronica, ‘When he’s around you, you clam up. He becomes larger, and you become smaller. Don’t you realize that he’s abusing you?’
Finally. The destructive evil that had invaded their marriage now had a name: domestic violence.
To be continued…