A Family Matter
A lady, call her Jane (not her real name) came to me with this
A number of years ago Jane met Mike (not his real name
either). Mike was a big, strong, good-looking guy with good
income and better potential. Jane was very taken by Mike and
As the years went by, the relationship didn't work out as Jane had
hoped. Mike became distant, was focused on his work outside
the home, and disapproved of any activities of Jane's outside the
home. Mike wished Jane to only stay home, prepare the meals,
keep the home in good order and tend the vegetable garden.
Jane became more and more dissatisfied with the marriage,
especially with the restrictions Mike placed on what Jane was
allowed to do. Finally, after some discontent, Jane got up
the nerve to propose to Mike that they dissolve the marriage.
In response, Mike grabbed a stick and beat Jane severely.
Each time Jane would resist, Mike would beat her more. By
the end of this savage beating, Jane was nearly unconscious.
It took Jane a long time to recover from the beating. Maybe
she never recovered in spirit, at least not fully.
Meanwhile, the marriage has gotten worse. Mike has run up
some huge debts, which also become Jane's debts. Jane had
some assets of her own when she came into the marriage, but Mike
won't allow Jane to use but a dribble of those assets for Jane's
needs, or even to reduce the debts Mike has run up. Mike has
gradually become more restrictive of what he will allow Jane to
do, to the point that Jane really has little autonomy.
Jane has put out some feelers to various authorities to see if any
help might be available from those sources, but they are either
disinterested or powerless. Mike is very well entrenched in
the local power structure. The authorities (probably
including the local court) will almost certainly believe whatever
Mike says and take Mike's side if there is any public airing of
Although a few neighbors might be willing to help Jane, to stick
up for her somehow, local authorities are unlikely to be of any
help at all.
I suggested to Jane that she should consider leaving Mike.
She is terrified of this option. She vividly remembers the
savage beating Mike delivered the last time she asked to end the
marriage. Nevertheless, this situation is not what Jane
thought she was getting into when she married. She now lives
nearly as a slave to Mike, clearly the domineering partner in this
relationship. Mike has grown quite arrogant.
One thing I can think to offer Jane is to enroll her in one of my
self defense classes - teach her when and how to shoot in self
defense. Of course, I would instruct Jane that lethal force
may only be used as an absolute last resort, only in self defense,
and that she should try every other remedy first. Whatever
happens, I don't think Jane should be required to suffer through
another beating if she should get up the gumption to ask Mike for
a divorce again. She might not survive the next beating.
So, what am I to advise Jane to do?
(Clue: Substitute "federal government" for Mike in this story,
and substitute "state" for Jane.)