Soon: Chapter 11: Emotional Abuse
This is where we really begin to see how toxic Paul is. Trigger warning, as if the title didn’t give it away–we’ll be talking about the tactics of emotional abusers.
The doctors called [Paul’s] attitude “displacement”–inflicting his rage and hopelessness on an innocent victim–and assured [Jae] it was common and would ebb, ideally, with Paul’s growing acceptance of his blindness. But that didn’t make it any easier to take when every visit brought a new wave of recrimination.
Paul upbraided Jae for every attempt to help him, along with every other failing he could dredge up from their ten years of marriage. He refused to accept her apologies for what he called her weakness when they first met with Dr. Bihari and her “selfishness” for “abandoning” him afterward.
As I discussed in the last chapter, I’m not buying this “displacement” defense, because Paul has always been a jerk of the first order. Let’s count the ways, shall we?
Some signs of emotional abuse (these are all from Wikipedia, though there are many other excellent sites out there for signs of abuse):
1. Ridiculing, criticizing, and humiliating the abused party–um, yeah. Evidence: every single conversation Paul and Jae have had.
2. Twisting and manipulating others’ words–yes and yes. Just in the last chapter, in fact, when he accused Jae of whining and just being sorry for herself.
3. False accusations and threats–yep, especially with the whole “you’re just being paranoid about the cheating” thing.
4. Attributing blame for the abuse to the abused–yeah. See what I just quoted.
5. Isolating the abused from friends and family and other support–this one gets interesting. Jae, like the good little Christian wife she will become, has followed her husband’s career. Followed it away from her own family in Washington, D.C., to Chicago. And she has left work to take care of the kids, with her primary reason for this being not just that Paul works, but that he has taken a job that requires extensive travel. Now, this is mitigated by the fact that her family is not as far away as they might seem. Travel in Atheistopia rocks, as we shall see soon, and Ranold had no trouble getting right to Chicago when needed. It is also mitigated by the fact that Chicago might make the most sense even for a healthy couple, as Paul’s mother was a widow in poor health. However, it is not mitigated by the facts that Jae feels isolated and misses the company of adults (heck, she says so in the first chapter), and that Paul spends a lot of time running down Jae’s family to her. So…partial credit on this one, I guess.
Now, it is important to bear in mind that this is evil, atheistic, pre-conversion Paul. But it’s not like he gets all that much better after accepting Jesus into his heart, so that excuse buys him very little.
And then, there’s the let’s share-around-the-blame attitude promulgated by Jenkins:
It had been a long time since she and Paul had been on the same track.
After the affair she felt she could never trust him again. It didn’t help that women were drawn to Paul–waitresses, airline attendants, even some of her friends. And Paul was constantly on the road, exposed to myriad women and temptations Jae was sure he lacked the will to resist. So they had reached an impasse. Jae was consumed by jealousies Paul did nothing to assuage and that seemed to push him into stubborn withdrawal.
Now Paul was blind. Could a couple already so resentful of each other withstand such a devastating blow?
Now, I am of the opinion that a bad relationship can rarely be laid at the feet of only one of the partners. But in the case of the Stepola marriage…IT CAN!!! I’m sorry, but Paul is the one serial-cheating, Paul is the one who’s emotionally abusive, Paul’s the one telling Jae she’s whiny and paranoid and–oh yeah, stupid:
[Jae] fiddled with the [disc] player.
“Just look at the instructions!” [Paul berated]
“That’s what I’m doing!”
“Why can’t you handle simple electronics? Who do you think’s going to do it for you now?”
She said nothing.
“Grown woman and you can’t even–ah, never mind. I’ll get someone else to do it.”
“I’m sorry, Paul.”
“Are you crying again?”
So, yeah. Paul: big damn jerk. But look at the language Jenkins uses, both spreading the blame around and making Jae look both at fault and incompetent: she “fiddles” with electronics, she’s “consumed by jealousies” and her doing that pushes Paul away. And hey, it’s not like it’s totally Paul’s fault–after all, women are “drawn” to him (remember his muscular build and “quick wit”?). I mean, the poor guy’s just standing there, minding his own abusive business, when these evil sluts just throw themselves upon him–and what’s he supposed to do, refuse? That would be rude.
Oh, and to add even more insult to injury, Paul then speaks insultingly of his wife to others–telling Bob that he needs him to set up the disc player because…
“Jae was going to, but she pulled her helpless-woman act.”
Oh, and, and, AND, when Jae suggests to Paul that she bring him some music to listen to along with the New Testament, he snaps,
“Don’t tell me what to think, Jae.”
What a gem.
Next on Soon…Paul finds a friend.
(‘Cause if anyone deserves one, right?)