An Experiment In Critical Thinking: Is Religion Battered Woman's Syndrome? genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions

The following video asks an interesting question - Is religion battered woman's syndrome? While provocative on its surface, the creator of the video makes a number of thoughtful observations.

More than an effort to connect religion with battered woman's syndrome, it is an attempt to force people to consider the pretext upon which they adopt their religious beliefs and to what extent that may be a flawed construct.

In my opinion, all too often people accept the religious beliefs of their parents without ever taking the time to fully understand exactly the meaning of the concepts they're assimilating into their own understanding of the world in which they live.

No doubt beliefs can serve a valuable purpose in a person's life...but they can also preclude the individual from exploring other possibilities...particularly if one has adopted their beliefs as a result of blind acceptance or forcible infliction. Hence, the similarity to the process by which a woman is able to adjust her thinking to accept the abuse of her abuser and forego her rightful ability to make determinations on her own and in her best interest.

I am always amazed at the seeming lack of suspicion with regards to religious ideology. Time and again I witness people refusing to take much of anything they encounter on face value...yet those same individuals are somehow able to compartmentalize their faith such that it is beyond reconsideration or reproach.

I've always felt that the fear of death, and the unknown quality it holds, is an immensely powerful tool in the arsenal of religious institutions. Regardless, it's as if people abdicate large swaths of their lives in order to avoid the fear of losing them. In the end, isn't that little more than a subservient march towards the very death they fear?

Come to think of it, perhaps the comparison is insufficient. After all, many women find the strength to break free of their overlords. The same isn't always true of those who acquiesce to other iterations of divine beings.

Tagged as: Battered Women, Critical Thinking, Death, Domestic Abuse, Faith, Fear, God, Religion

Daniel DiRito | May 14, 2008 | 10:53 AM
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1 On May 14, 2008 at 1:43 PM, Doris Tracey wrote —

I was raped in my apartment in 1983 and I never feared it would happen again. I went straight to sleep after the incident and I rarely think about it. I may have been killed if I didn't do everything he told me to do. He did not penetrate me, but he made me have oral sex with him. After it was over I asked him to leave and that I would not report it. A week or two later I was driving to my home and I sensed the car behind me was following me and I was correct. I pulled over to the side of the road and this young man in his early twenties, the same man who raped me, got out of his car and came to my car window, and I only cracked the window to speak with him and he said he wanted to see me again and I said to him: What you did was wrong and I did not report this to the police, but if you come back again I will report it to them. I never saw him again. I never fear that someone may be following me. It's like it never happened. Originally I let this man in my apartment to use the phone. He did act like he used the phone and then came to my living room as if he were waiting for someone to pick him up and after ten munutes he grabbed me and raped me. He had violence in his eyes and he may have been on some kind of drug. After he raped me, he looked like he was in shock and dis-belief for what he had just done and then I asked him to leave and he did.

2 On May 14, 2008 at 6:19 PM, daniel wrote —


I've read your comment a few times and I'm struggling with a response. I thank you for sharing this information about a very troubling event and I hope you never have to experience anything of the sort again.

No one is entitled to violate another and while I don't fully understand why you didn't report the attack to the police, I can respect whatever reasons you may have had in not doing so.

I would appreciate it if you would offer some additional commentary so that I might better understand how you connect the story you've shared with the posting. I have some thoughts in that regard but I don't feel comfortable sharing them without some added insight.

Forgive me if my uncertainty is offensive. I'm certainly not attempting to be insensitive.

Thanks again for sharing.



3 On May 15, 2008 at 10:49 AM, Ben in Oakland wrote —

This is something i posted at Box turtle in another context, but i think it is relevant here. I think that low self esteem is at the base of the battered woman syndrome.

The other interesting question to me is why people keep choosing a religion that is destructive to their health and happiness when there are other clear choices that do not. Why do people not choose the path that would make their lives better, but instead, choose the path that continually brings pain.

My husband's brother, a sweet man, stays with his wife despite the fact that both are miserable in their marriage. We have advised him repeatedly to get some counseling, either with her or without her. But don't leave the situation unchanged, even if the change will result in reduced financial circumstances (at worst) or a renewed marriage (at best). It is not about religious beliefs about divorce.

Yet he won't, and continues to suffer. I can only conclude two things. One is that he is afraid of the change. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't.

My question then is, why choose a devil at all? This might also apply to gay people of a fundamentalist bent in dealing with their sexuality.

The other is, I think, a self esteem issue, and this I believe certainly applies to gay people in this situation. We are taught from an early age in obscure but pervasive ways that their is NOTHING worse than being queer-- boys especially believe this because they equate being queer with being effeminate, and there is nothing worse than not being a full man, which one is not by definition if one is effeminate. There is nothing worse than being a woman. (And a hat tip to centuries of so-called thought by desert religions).

Being gay is SO bad that it makes some gay people crazy enough to believe that they have something to gain by betraying their basic natures, by betraying THEMSELVES. Another word for this is shame. Losing the war against oneself-- or as the Throckster calls it, ex-gay therapy-- doesn't work, because it just confirms their opinions of themselves. (Transactional analysis does the best job of explaining this basic and apparent contradiction).

The truth is, gay people in this position WANT to be punished for being inherently and intrinsically morally evil (thanks to Benny the Ratz for that bit of 'moral' analysis), and they can't think of anything else besides fundamentalist religion that is bad enough to give them what they deserve. So they keep choosing it.

People do this sort of thing all of that time. It is what we call self-destructive behavior, and it is a common enough phenomenon well known to those in the psychiatric field. If that self destructive behavior, grounded as it is in culturally constructed poor self esteem, is not what is being addressed, then no therapy is going to work. Ex-gay 'therapy' is intended to do just one thing-- confirm and support that poor opinion of themselves. Hence the words sexually broken, sinful, lost masculinity, blah blah blah blah. Even the word therapy itself loses its meaning in this context.

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