Regular readers may recognise Barbara Roberts’ name as an occasional commenter here — but she’s also an author and publisher. Here she tells us the story of her journey from abuse through divorce and remarriage to freedom and the tough decision to publish her own book when no established publisher seemed willing to take it on board…
Barbara writes: Maschil Press came into existence when I couldn’t find a publisher for Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion (ISBN 9780980355345; I offer great deals for small booksellers)
The subject of Not Under Bondage is a hot potato to say the least. Domestic abuse is heavy stuff, and the doctrine of divorce is likely to raise contention, with personal experience tending to colour whatever is read.
Maschil Press aims to expose and advocate against sub-biblical views which have caused pain and grief to the Christian community and the wider population. Why Maschil? It’s a Hebrew word which is thought to mean prudent or insightful and I hope that’s what I’m doing: giving insight into the little-understood scriptural dilemmas of the victim of domestic abuse, and how those dilemmas can be resolved when the scriptures are rightly understood.
How did I get into writing about domestic abuse? I wrote Not Under Bondage because there was a gap in the market. When I left my abusive husband for the last time, I couldn’t find a book that adequately answered my questions about divorce for domestic abuse.
Here’s the back story: I became a Christian in 1981 but for a long time had minimal biblical teaching and lingering confusion due to a swag of new age beliefs I had soaked myself in for years. Becoming sidetracked into other areas soon after my conversion, I didn’t get to church for nearly 14 years. I wouldn’t recommend taking such a long time in the wilderness!
Unaware that Christians should avoid marrying non-Christians, I married an unbeliever in 1989 and we had a daughter. The marriage gradually became abusive and I occasionally took refuge in a women’s refuge. My marriage was the most common type of abusive marriage (according to the research on abusive marriages) – my husband was violent several times a year, but there was an undercurrent of emotional abuse from him all the time. There were also elements that I’d categorise as social abuse (isolation from friends and family) and sexual abuse.
In 1994 I left my husband with the help of a protection order from the courts, and started attending church and reading the Bible seriously. That was when I became a professing Christian. A family court battle eventually led to me being granted custody and my husband granted fortnightly access to our daughter.
After four years my separated husband made a profession of faith and we reconciled as a married couple. The abuse recurred, this time with the added element of spiritual abuse, because my husband learnt to twist scriptures against me. I separated for the last time in 1999, divorcing a few years after that.
In 2001 the stress in my household diminished markedly when access visits between my daughter and her father ceased. It’s a long story.
We have a few chooks in the back yard and a cute black dog who has a lot more emotional empathy than some Christians.
I am working on a second book – a companion volume to Not Under Bondage – that will deal with other scriptural dilemmas which Christian victims of domestic abuse face apart from the divorce dilemma. I live in Ballarat, Australia, and am now happily married to a wonderful man who suffered domestic abuse in a former marriage. We have a few chooks in the back yard and a cute black dog who has a lot more emotional empathy than some Christians.
After praying not to become a publisher, I’m rather glad to be a publisher because I have full control of my work. When not writing, I’m advocating for victims of domestic abuse, and trying to educate the Christian world so they are better equipped to respond to victim/survivors. My website has lots of links and articles that are helpful for anyone dealing with domestic abuse in a Christian context.
Previous Posts (most recent first)
- Not Under Bondage: Update: Phil Groom, 23/07/2009
- How ‘Not Under Bondage’ came to be written: Barbara Roberts, 29/01/2009
- A Hot Potato: Barbara Roberts, 04/12/2008
- Not Under Bondage: Review by John Wilks, Reviews Editor, Evangelical Quarterly, 25/11/2008
ISBN 9780980355345 (0980355346)
Maschil Press, 2008