Sarah Balogh reflects on the evil that befell Hannah Clarke and her children in Brisbane last week from a personal and professional standpoint.
When the question revolves around variations of what went wrong for someone to perpetrate such an act we find ourselves trying to make sense of of something that cannot be made sense of.
Whenever we think of such acts as love gone wrong we neglect the reality that love was never present, however the relationship looked, or whatever the perpetrator expressed about their victims.
Perhaps we recognise some warped expression of love for self, because that’s all the relationship was ever meant to serve. But even then it is a desire that is ultimately self-destructive.
It is the opposite of the love that is at the heart of the Christian Gospel, and makes all the more wretched any compulsion exercised by Christians for victims of domestic violence to continue to expose themselves to perpetrators.
As a psychologist, I am familiar with stories of domestic violence. I know how victims (especially women) struggle against the manipulation of their abusers. I’ve heard them try and make themselves responsible for the abuse of others: “It was my fault … If only I hadn’t said … But he said sorry.” The stories are so familiar. And yet … always so painful.
Sometimes it stirs a fury in me and I want justice.
Sometimes after they leave the counselling room, I cry.
Often, I pray “come Lord Jesus.”
Domestic violence doesn’t make sense to us.
It doesn’t make sense when someone says they love you, but seeks to control you or your family or your friends. It doesn’t make sense when someone who promised to care for you tries to put you down or call you names—or, worse, tries to pit your children against you. It makes no sense when that someone hits you, and then says sorry … and does the same thing again next week, or next month, or next year.
We can’t make sense of it because it doesn’t and shouldn’t make any sense at all.
Domestic violence doesn’t make sense, because it is not love.
A loving husband treats his wife like a queen, not like a slave. A loving husband lays down his life for his wife—the same way Jesus laid down his life for his church.