Verbal Abuse Part 3: Is There More to It?

Material adapted from information on Dr. Susan Weitzman's website, Not to People Like Us.

In the Assembly system, as in many cultic systems, the verbal abusiveness of the wife training did not stand alone. It was intended to be an instrument to implement the husband's complete control over the wife. Some couples did not take this seriously. They duly practiced the training routines as instructed, but did not change the structure of their relationship from partnership to dictatorship. Many husbands, however, were "true believers" and used the training to institute their complete domination over their wives. This was domestic abuse.

The way it was practiced in the Assembly closely resembles the early stages of what Dr. Susan Weitzman calls "upscale domestic violence." Dr. Weitzman, a psycholinguist at San Diego State University, enumerates the following early warning signs:

Notice that at least half a dozen of these behaviors were explicitly encouraged in Assembly wife training.

Dr. Weitzman gives the following profile* of the typical "upscale abuser":

Again, most of these characteristics were encouraged in Assembly husbands, and justified by twisting the scriptures.

What can you do if you are stuck in this kind of post-Assembly marriage? Susan M., in her story of domestic violence in the Assembly, tells how things began to change, even though the abuse had already escalated to physical violence, when her family began visiting a healthy church and got counseling :

We began attending another local Baptist church on alternate Sundays. Over the course of a few months, Tom and I sought marital counseling, as we were now making friends with healthy couples and families. The last time Tom tried to strike me I threatened to call the police, the brethren, his boss, and everyone under the sun. The physical abuse stopped then.

Change won't necessarily happen automatically. Become informed on the issue of domestic violence and get marriage counseling.

*Dr. Weitzman has a footnote to this profile. "There are many aspects to this profile; this is an initial and partial list. For a more detailed list, see Not to People Like Us: Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages" (her book). Also see her website.

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