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.”

You ass.

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?)

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Posted on April 22, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Wow. Paul has got to be one of the (if not the) most unlikable protagonists ever. Which is all the more stunning as I don’t think he’s meant to be unlikable at all. *boggles*

    Look, douchenozzle, you’re blind. If you can’t bring yourself to be even polite to the woman you now depend on (since I’m guessing you’re too big of a tool to work out how to get by on your own), don’t be surprised if she up and leaves your sorry ass. In fact, I think most people would cheer if she left you alone with your asshattery to figure out how the hell you were going to cope. But even that would just make you sorry for yourself.

    *longs to find the author and pelt him with copies of his book*

  2. Ohhh… this bought up some unhappy memories… Yes, I’ve had a relationship like that. Being told I was stupid, clumsy, unfit to take care of myself let alone my kids; having a husband who made sure that everybody knew I was clumsy, stupid and unfit. I so much want to grab Jae, drag her out to a bar somewhere and explain to her exactly what her b*st*rd of a husband is doing to her.
    Yeah, and I’d like to pelt the author too – but not with books. Books don’t deserve that kind of treatment.
    This rage is bad for my blood pressure – I shall have to go and have a calming cup of tea. Ruby, you have my admiration for exposing yourself to this disgusting piece of writing, so that the rest of us don’t have to.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I grew up with a brother who emotionally abused me on at least four of the five points, and the kids at school (where I was the Omega Male) made up for the fifth. I am now 55 years old, and the damage is still there.

  3. That “ridiculing, criticizing and humiliating” seems to have been a feature of every conversation Paul has had – not just with Jae, but with everyone – except when he was dealing with an authority figure.

    (And heathen music is of course Evil.)

    But hold on there… a disc player? Atheistopia is still using spinning plastic rather than solid-state media? How quaint!

    • Yeah, that struck me, too. I remember a neat bit from a DS9 novel I read when I was a teenager. And YES, I read DS9 novels as a teenager. Shut up. 😀 Anyway, Bashir’s new hobby is studying old Earth entertainment (like everyone else in Star Trek), and he’s just discovered CDs. His reaction is basically, “You wouldn’t believe what those people had to put up with! Some of their music was stored on discs as big as your HAND!”

      And oh my yes, Paul is your basic authoritarian: fawningly subservient to those “above” him, a bully to those “below” him. Just like all LaJenkinsian heroes, really. I wonder if they even have an inkling that that’s how it comes across, or if that’s just what they think is natural and right…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        I wonder if they even have an inkling that that’s how it comes across, or if that’s just what they think is natural and right…

        It’s like a Fundagelical version of the Medieval idea of the Great Chain of Being, where everything had it’s God-Ordained (and Permanent) place.

    • Hm, verbally abusing everybody except authority figures…

      Narcissistic personality disorder much?

  4. It didn’t help that women were drawn to Paul–waitresses, airline attendants, even some of her friends.

    Airline attendants? Really? Airline attendants?!?

    Dammit, where’s Meta-Hattie when we need her?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      t didn’t help that women were drawn to Paul–waitresses, airline attendants, even some of her friends.

      So Paul Apostle-spelled-sideways is God’s Gift to All Women (who all find him Irresistable)? Every woman’s Edward Cullen (sparkle sparkle), just like Rayford Steele vis-a-vis Hattie the Hottie?

      Are you sure Paul Apostle-spelled-sideways isn’t an Author Self-Insert? Because this sure sounds like Fanboy Wish Fulfillment.

      • I just noticed something–all the women listed? Those are his subordinates. Waitresses and flight attendants and secretaries. I highly doubt Paul pulls in middle management women or anyone with a higher social standing than his own.

    • Meta-Hattie is at a party with Meta-Chloe and not available to take your call right now. If you are another controlling asshole, please press one. If you are a real, true Christian, please press one. Otherwise, press three to leave a message.

    • Airline attendants seem to be the default sluts for LaJenkins, I wonder what he’s got about them. Does he think they just hang out and flirt during the flight rather than doing their jobs?

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy

    ’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:

    But Jae is Only a WOMAN (TM), so that makes it not only OK but Godly. Like that Excedrin commercial of the Sixties, with a man and woman arguing about something to generate The Excedrin Headache:

    “Me Man. Me want fill-in-the-blank.
    You Woman. You Shut Up.”

  6. At least the story is acknowledging Paul’s current behavior as dickish and hurtful. That’s almost like progress, right?

    “Why can’t you handle simple electronics? Who do you think’s going to do it for you now?”

    “Alternatively, we could invest in home electronics designed to be usable by the visually impaired, since we live in the future and such technology is likely commonplace and inexpensive. It doesn’t cry when you yell at it, but I guess you could use your imagination.”

    Jae was consumed by jealousies Paul did nothing to assuage

    I’m not sure that it still qualifies as jealousy when there have, in fact, been multiple verified incidents of infidelity. We’re past “jealousy” at this point and into “justifiable resentment”.

  7. Wow…Just when I think Paul can’t be any douchier….I’m starting to want a big Douche-off between two Jenkins protagonists: Rayford and Paul. Best case scenario: they finish each other off. Worst case scenario: we’re left with a super mega-Douche.

    • But who will form the head?

      Obvious rejoinder: RayPaul HAS NO HEAD! Gasp. =)

      Ultimately, Stepola is probably the most hateful protagonist that I’ve ever read. I would really like to think that of course he will get better, he’s supposed to be an evil atheist right now. But Ruby has said that he doesn’t, and… augh.

      The foefic is just begging to be written. All the people Stepola’s torqued off coming together in a Murder on the Orient Express scenario….

  8. Choir of Shades

    Now now, Jae is a jealous wife, just like God is a jealous god-oh wait, crap I’m not supposed to compare God and a WOMAN (TM).

    As horrible and abusive as he is though, he still becomes a worse person post-conversion and return to work…Also, do they ever show Jae and Paul’s courtship? Because this strikes me not as love, but as Stockholm Syndrome.

    {{{Mrs. Grimble & H.U.G.}}}

    @Ruby, eh you’re not the only one who read horrible Star Trek novels as a teen. I used to read the Voyager books.

  9. A good relationship involves respect, trust and acceptance. Healthy relationship starts on friendship. Keeping secrets is not acceptable in a relationship. A healthy relationship is open to all possibilities of changes and not afraid of difficulties along the way.

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