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Sep 11 2011

His brazen feminist mother-in-law attacked him with vegetables

Digging.

No Longer Quivering has a section for nlq stories. There are a lot of stories. I’m reading chapter 2 of one story, by Tess Willoughby.

It was the year when we went to a conference and met a pastor who advocated corporal punishment for wives, and Nate took to his teachings like a duck to water…

Nate and I were part of the Christian separatist movement of the late ’80s and early ’90s, rooted in the belief that liberals and “secular humanists” would destroy the moral fiber of America. Christian separatists— right-wing religious splinter groups including white supremacists, Y2K survivalists, secessionists, reconstructionists, and so on—believed that the upstanding patriotic Christian Americans needed to separate themselves and create a fortress of Christian homes where the true leaders of tomorrow would be raised…

When I was eight months pregnant with Jack, Nate ordered me to pick a paperwad up off the living room floor. I refused, and he took me by the forearm and “lovingly compelled” me to pick up the paperwad, while murmuring sweetly in my ear, “I’m sorry, sweetheart, but you need to learn obedience.”

I was enjoying a cozy kitchen chat with my mom when Nate interrupted with this remark: “A woman is to be under a man at every stage of her life—her father, her husband, and then, if widowed, her son.” I looked at Nate in stupefaction.  The idea of a son’s authority over his widowed mother was a new one, even for me.

My mother had been shelling her garden peas during Nate’s little speech. She stopped, repeated “under. . .a. . .man,” and began hurling fresh peas at Nate’s balding head. Then she stalked out of the kitchen. I was ordered to gather the peas and pack the car—my visit home was over.

Incidents like these had convinced Nate that my Mom and Dad were not Christians—at least, not biblical Christians. They were a bad influence on his family.  They needed to be shunned.

And that’s the fun part. Then she gives birth to Jack, and Nate wants to sleep but newborn Jack keeps crying so Nate -

Read on.

49 comments

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  1. 1
    NathanDST

    I . . .

    I really wish I didn’t share that man’s name.

  2. 2
    Ophelia Benson

    He’s a piece of work, isn’t he? God’s plan.

  3. 3
    Tabby Lavalamp

    Are we allowed to swear on your blog comments? I ask because only certain words are coming to mind right now…

  4. 4
    Hamilton Jacobi

    The part about the peas was a bit of a letdown. I was hoping it was going to be a huge turnip, or maybe a frozen stalk of prize-winning broccoli.

  5. 5
    Jason Dick

    @Tabby Lavalamp: And I bet you haven’t even read the whole story! It scares the hell out of me that there are guys that do that. I can’t imagine how a woman would feel under that kind of abuse.

  6. 6
    Ophelia Benson

    Swearing is permitted!

  7. 7
    geocatherder

    I would lovingly get a restraining order, lovingly change the locks, and lovingly pile his stuff on the porch before lovingly filing for divorce. But the chances of me buying into such bull**** in the first place are close to 0, so I probably wouldn’t have been in that position in the first place.

    Oh,and that’s me in my magnanimous mode. If I’d been really pissed, things could’ve gotten much worse. I do know how to shoot a gun.

  8. 8
    Fin

    Surely this amounts to slavery in everything but name – and while I’m generally against the interference of the law into the personal choices of individuals – surely there should be some protection against this, even if that protection is against the will of those being protected?

    I don’t know, the implications of my gut reaction are probably worse, somehow (and I’m sure someone will come along and explain why). It just makes me livid that such barbarity continues to exist in our society, and I do feel that arguing against it instead of taking direct action is letting too many people continue to be harmed.

  9. 9
    MelissaF

    I’m almost speechless. The sick, sick bastard. I can’t even imagine living like that, being treated like property, like a bloody dog. Horrific.

  10. 10
    Ophelia Benson

    Fin, I know. It looks to me as if a lot of this stuff amounts to child abuse. There should be more interference (and rescue) than there is. But…when the social services in Texas rescued hundreds of enslaved girls from the Fundamentalist Mormon compound, a court eventually sent them all back.

  11. 11
    Ken Pidcock

    The part about the peas was a bit of a letdown. I was hoping it was going to be a huge turnip, or maybe a frozen stalk of prize-winning broccoli.

    I was hoping it was going to be a shank of lamb. (Roald Dahl bit.)

  12. 12
    Cafeeine

    If this was a tv movie script I would say they were laying the drama too thick. I have just read up to the latest (but not last, there apparently is more to come) chapter and I am mortified at what this poor woman and her kids have been through with that scumbag.

  13. 13
    Hamilton Jacobi

    Ken, this reminded me of the Roald Dahl story too, but perhaps the biologists among us would balk at classifying lamb as a vegetable. A frozen Tofurkey abaft the noggin would be just what the doctor ordered, though.

  14. 14
    C. Mason Taylor

    Yeah. On a blog full of disturbing and galling stories, Tess’s is perhaps the most galling. It is also quite well-written, which only makes the worst parts of it more poignant. It comforts me, in some small way, to see how she paints him in retrospect as such a pathetic worm. Of course, that’s utterly insignificant in the face of all those horrors she had to face, but it gives me hope to see that Nate’s hypocrisy, cruelty and oppression failed so utterly, in the end, to do anything other than propel an intelligent, confident, and indomitable person out into the world.

  15. 15
    Jeremy Shaffer

    It’s a truely appalling story but at the least the dark humor that runs through it indicates that some sanity has been retained (or regained) on the part of the writer.

  16. 16
    Hertta

    @geocatherder

    Of course you would have. Tess Willoughby is just so stuipid to buy into such bullshit and let herself be treated like that.

  17. 17
    khms

    @Hertta

    Not stupid, clearly. But presumably brainwashed. Though one wonders how that worked when her mother clearly wasn’t this indoctrinated. Presumably the story gives some explanation; not only don’t I have time to read it right now, I also tend to avoid depressing literature – I already know too much about the world’s problems for my peace of mind as it is … :-(

  18. 18
    Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM

    I really, really approve of Tess’s mother. :D

  19. 19
    Hertta

    @khms

    Oh, she’s certainly not stupid. She’s very perceptive and a good writer. She does attempt to explain the reasons she did not “lovingly get a restraining order, lovingly change the locks, and lovingly pile his stuff on the porch before lovingly filing for divorce”. That someone would be so arrogant and tell us that that’s what they would have done angers me to no end.

    I’d recommend you read how powerless she really was, how tired dizzy and in pain, how she was either breastfeeding or pregnant all the time, what kind of pressure she was under not to break the family, how she almost bled out after a another home birth and how the realisation that the next pregnancy could kill her made her realize that it was a life and death situation. But you need to protect your peace of mind, so I won’t.

  20. 20
    Hertta

    Tess’s husband is clearly a sadist of the worst kind. But I’m wondering if having a wife that’s supposed to be fully obedient to you is the kind of set-up that’s likely to bring out the worst in a man. Maybe it’s like a version of the Stanford prison experiment. Only it’s not called off when things start to go horribly wrong.

  21. 21
    Hertta

    I wrote “…how the realisation that the next pregnancy could kill her made her realize…”. I guess I meant something like “…how the likelyhood that the next pregnancy could kill her made her realize…” I blame not getting enough coffee this morning.

  22. 22
    raymoscow

    I think Nate needs a long trip to the big house with a much larger roomate intent on biblically knowing him, so that he can develop ‘a servant’s heart’ for himself. Of course the police and courts would do nothing to this SOB until he actually killed her or one of the children, and so this is an idle wish.

    Much of the evil of this ideology is that it beats women down to being doormats and emboldens the bullies with God’s supposed approval. What bully doesn’t enjoy a live-in doormat, especially if he thinks that God approves of his bullying?

    The only escape is for the woman to come to her senses and get the hell out of the situation, although that’s dangerous as hell, too.

  23. 23
    skepticlawyer

    MelissaF, I think the point is that you wouldn’t do this to a dog, not unless you wanted the RSPCA camped in your front garden. Social services have more teeth here (they’ve uncovered a number of instances of slavery in Gypsy and Muslim families, and been unafraid to label it as such).

  24. 24
    Gordon

    Pathetic little man.

  25. 25
    Bruce Gorton

    And Christianity is different to Islam how?

  26. 26
    Jeremy Shaffer

    Bruce Gorton asks:

    And Christianity is different to Islam how?

    Unlike Islam, Christianity was dragged kicking and screaming through the Enlightnment. That used to make a difference in the US until a few decades ago when some small- minded and short- sighted politicians decided that fundamentalist Christians could help them get elected easier.

  27. 27
    John-H

    The most depressing thing about this is that even when she escapes, the abuse doesn’t end. I really hope that it is over now but I get the impression from the last line that it isn’t.

  28. 28
    Svlad Cjelli

    And Christianity is different to Islam how?

    More colourful dresses.

  29. 29
    Jason Dick

    @jshaffer:
    Fortunately, the enlightenment still does make a difference. If this were a story about a fundamental Islamist, then Tess would very likely have been killed by Nate by now.

  30. 30
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    @raymoscow

    I’d just like to thank you for supporting rape as a form of punishment. Society just wouldn’t be the same without people like you.

  31. 31
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    @jasondick

    Not so much. Tess may be a survivor, but as I’m sure you know, women are killed everyday by their husbands, exes, and boyfriends in places where the Enlightenment’s been working at change for a few centuries.

  32. 32
    raymoscow

    Ibis3, in Nate’s case, I think the punishment suits his many crimes of abuse against his wife and children. And it’s actually what a great many nonviolent offenders, caught with a bit of drugs or something, get in the US justice system.

    But thanks for your note of concern for the poor abusive dear. Society needs people like you, too.

  33. 33
    julian

    Ibis3, in Nate’s case, I think the punishment suits his many crimes of abuse against his wife and children.

    Yes, let’s fuck up his psyche even more and make him even more violent and agressive. Especially towards those he knows he can dominate. That can’t possibly make things worse.

    Punishment should be the least important thing in these situations. Maybe after we’ve dealt with the victim and provided them with the care and the support needed to help them recover, and after we’ve raised soceital awareness to the point where these practices aren’t swept under the rug by local police and family, and maybe after we’ve managed a succesful push against the movements we can worry about violating another human being.

    Is Nate a repulsive creature? Yes. Should he be removed from the general population? Most definitely. Do his victims deserve vindication? Yes, a thousand times. Does he deserve to be raped? No.

  34. 34
    Jason Dick

    @Ibis3, Well, yes, this is true. And to be honest, Tess is extremely lucky to be alive at all. But I was attempting to draw a distinction between the horrible situation Tess was in and the prevalence of honor killing in many Islamic nations.

    Granted, this may well be splitting hairs. No matter which way you slice it, this kind of treatment is horrifying and I would love to see a proper solution to it. But in the end it is always going to be a challenge because it’s going to be difficult to have a system that protects women in Tess’s position without their desire to be protected.

  35. 35
    Ophelia Benson

    Ray’s suggestion was rhetorical as opposed to serious policy, and in any case he didn’t actually wish rape on the guy – he wished the experience of fearing rape on him.

    “I think Nate needs a long trip to the big house with a much larger roomate intent on biblically knowing him.”

    I actually agree that experience of being the smaller weaker party locked up with someone not altogether benevolent would be salutary for Nate.

  36. 36
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    in Nate’s case, I think the punishment suits his many crimes of abuse against his wife and children. And it’s actually what a great many nonviolent offenders, caught with a bit of drugs or something, get in the US justice system.

    But thanks for your note of concern for the poor abusive dear. Society needs people like you, too.

    Its clear that you don’t care about the chilling effect your rape-apologism has on victims. But don’t you dare pretend that objecting to using rape as a punishment is the same thing as supporting abusive pigs like this.

    Since you are advocating violence as his punishment because you’ve decided he deserves it, how are you any different from him, who decided his wife deserved violent punishment, because he decided she deserved it?

    Hint: You’re not different. You’re just several steps behind him.

  37. 37
    raymoscow

    Perhaps we can ‘wish’ Nate into prison, and those who you concerned for his well being can then campaign for him to be treated exceptionally well? No doubt this is a major priority for you already.

    Yes, no doubt he’d soon be rehabilitated with a bit of tender loving care.

    Obviously I have much less desire than you do for him to be treated better than the average felon, many of whom are in prison for nonviolent ‘crimes’ like drug offences. Based on what his wife has written, I wouldn’t piss on Nate if he were on fire. I’ll save my compassion for those more deserving and my anger for abusive bastards like him.

  38. 38
    raymoscow

    Thanks for the insult, Illuminata. Sure, I’m just like him, wishing to see him punished for crimes against vulnerable people. There’s no difference between us at all.

    As to his actual punishment, I’m completely for letting the courts decide in accordance with the law. I just don’t buy the ‘defend the abuser’ or ‘punishment is wrong’ rhetoric.

  39. 39
    raymoscow

    Anyway, I’m sorry for derailing the thread. I was trying to express outrage at Nate’s abuse of his wife and children, not to belittle the crime of rape or to try to circumvent the due process of the justice system.

    I grew up with these sorts of people, and I know quite a few “Nates”, although he seems pretty extreme even by those insane standards. One of my sisters was married to one and was lucky to escape with her life.

  40. 40
    Ophelia Benson

    Hey, you didn’t derail, Ray. You didn’t say you wished Nate could be raped, you said you wished he could be in a setup where he would fear being raped. I don’t consider that belittling the crime of rape.

  41. 41
    Grendels Dad

    Hertta raised an interesting analogy to the Stanford Prisoner experiments. What would that kind of unquestionable authority be like? As the Stanford experiments showed, even a “normal” person given absolute authority over someone else would tend to excess.

    The whole idea of absolute authority is toxic. “Support me even when I’m wrong” is the last thing anyone needs. Nobody is perfect, and being called on it when we screw up is how we grow. If nobody can ever call you on anything you can’t ever fix yourself.

    In their screwy religious view god should be rubbing their noses in the mess they have made. Unfortunately, god is, yet again, a now-show.

  42. 42
    scott

    I just read most of Tess’ stories on the NLQ site. Reading about her (ex)-husband… I have never felt such hate for someone I didn’t even know. Not even for people like terrorists or Nazis; they at least think they’re fighting some twisted kind of war and it’s not personal. But the evil this man does… it’s right in the face of his wife and family, people who should be able to depend on his love and support.

    This man needs to know what it’s like to be utterly at someone else’s mercy but have no expectation of it, because he *knows* he doesn’t deserve it.

  43. 43
    geocatherder

    I seem to have angered someone with my “lovingly got a restraining order…” post. Sorry, not my intent to be arrogant. But my parents, good Christians though they were, raised me to be nobody’s punching bag. Nobody was going to hurt their daughter, and they made sure I knew it. So perhaps Tess has been let down not only by her subhuman husband, but also by her parents, in an oblique way. (Having read part of the story, obviously they were there for her when she really needed help.)

  44. 44
    Jason Dick

    @geocatherder, It’s really difficult to say, as we don’t know anything about what her family life was like. It may be that her parents prepared her for a life of fundamentalism without realizing it. Or it may be that she was rebelling against her parents when she went into the Quiverful movement. Tess doesn’t seem to say. At least, not that I can recall.

    At any rate, my gut feeling about this whole thing is that Tess’s parents were Christians, but much more moderate, and that moderate Christianity was sort of a “gateway drug” to the true fundamentalism that Tess found herself in. Her parents may have been very loving and supportive, but it seems likely they didn’t prepare her with critical thinking skills that would have allowed her to avoid that stuff before she got started.

  45. 45
    julian

    Her parents may have been very loving and supportive, but it seems likely they didn’t prepare her with critical thinking skills that would have allowed her to avoid that stuff before she got started.

    Do we know how effective an abuse repellent critical thinking is? No papers or anything to back me but I’ve never seen critical thinking as something that would help you cope or get away from abusive situations.

  46. 46
    skepticlawyer

    Moderate Christianity as a ‘gateway drug’.

    I likes it. I likes it a lot.

  47. 47
    Panda

    Although as an agnostic I find quiverfull movement completely repulsive I don’t think that is what made Nate this evil. Some people talk about Stanford Prison experiment, but I don’t think even that can explain the extend of the abuse in this case.

    Far more likely explanation is that a man is a sociopath. Steven Pinker explained what they are in Blank Slate. There is also a book Without Conscience by Robert Hare and Nate seems to fit the description.

    He also chillingly fits description from lovefraud blog about abusive (mostly sociopathic and psychopatic) spouses.

    No empathy or remorse. Superficially charming. Extremely manipulative. Delusions of grandeur. Unreliable and unable to follow rules. This doesn’t sound like a normal guy on power trip. The guy’s problem is most likely genetic.

  48. 48
    Jason Dick

    @julian,

    I’m not thinking so much as abuse-repellent but instead as fundamentalist religion-repellent. If she had been well-armed to think critically, it seems doubtful she would ever have found fundamentalist religion even remotely tempting.

  49. 49
    Svlad Cjelli

    Nobody is perfect, and being called on it when we screw up is how we grow. If nobody can ever call you on anything you can’t ever fix yourself.

    This is the toughest judgement for stalwart dogs to make.

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