Pat Robertson’s Insensitive Reply to a Domestic Violence Victim (November 2018)
Before I present the viewer question from the domestic violence victim, and Pat Roberston’s horrible response to that person, I wanted to say a few words first.
I’ve already done a post on this blog called (Link): “Women, Stop Asking Pat Robertson Relationship Advice,” but women (and sometimes men) keep e-mailing Pat Robertson for relationship advice.
Here is the gist of that previous post:
If you write Robertson for relationship advice – especially if you are a woman – 9 out of 10 times, Robertson’s reply will be sexist, unsympathetic, and victim-blaming. So do not waste your time.
Secondly, you’re an adult.
You don’t need Pat or the Bible or any other person to tell you what you need to do or what you should do. You can make up your own mind as to what you think is best for you.
Abusers do not change, no matter how much you submit and pray for the abuser.
It is a waste of your time and “tossing pearls before swine” to stay with an abuser. If you consider divorce a sin (I don’t, certainly not in the case of abuse – and abuse can be verbal, emotional, and financial, not just physical), God says in the Bible he forgives sin.
What most all the competent articles and books about domestic violence say is this:
You will need to leave the abuser – contact your local domestic violence shelter for assistance in that.
You cannot change your abuser no matter what you do. Your abuser does not want to change – his control and abuse of you is allowing him to get his way in the relationship, which is what he really wants.
Your abuser has no incentive or reason to stop the abuse. The abuse gives him what he wants.
If you ask your average Christian, such as Pat Robertson, who is a (Link): gender complementarian, he or she will most likely tell you that no, you cannot or should not divorce your abuser (and such Christians are incorrect with that attitude).
On November 15, 2018, the 700 Club television show, which Pat Robertson hosts, received a question from a woman who was in an abusive relationship. The video with the question is (Link): here on You Tube.
The question from that viewer comes towards the end of the video, around the 48.58 mark.
The Viewer Question
Here is a transcript of the question:
[Dear Pat Robertson],
I am not married and have 4 children by the same man.
We’ve lived together for years but he is abusive.
My four children and I have managed to escape and leave him. After we left, my daughter told me that her dad had been raping her for years.
We have nowhere to go. The homeless shelters are full.
Things just keep getting worse.
Is God punishing me for living with a man without being married?
“You got to be kidding me,” Robertson starts out with in an incredulous, disrespectful tone in his reply to this viewer question.
I could tell from that intro that the rest of his response was going to be all wrong. And it was.
Robertson then proceeds to verbally assault this woman who already sounds guilty, lost, and heartbroken, and who is already under great stress, by saying to her no, God is not punishing you, but, (BUT), Robertson goes on and on, that she made some “awful mistakes,” and he keeps telling her that she did all this to herself.
Pat Robertson’s Response
Some quotes by Robertson from the video (these may not be 100% verbatim, because I am typing this as I go, and he talks quickly, making it difficult for me to keep up):
You’ve got to be kidding me. I mean really.
Is God punishing you? No, you made horrible decisions!
You started having an adulterous relation or a fornication with a person.
You’re living with a guy you’re not married to, he’s beating you up, and abusing (you), he’s raping your daughter.
I mean for heaven’s sakes, what kind of man is that?
You’ve punished yourself. You’ve sown the wind and you’re reaping the whirlwind, that’s what the Bible says.
Is God punishing you?
Well, God doesn’t like that kind of conduct, obviously, but you’ve done it to your self.
And it’s time you say, I’ve made some terrible mistakes, Lord forgive me, and then get me on the right path and God will hear your prayer and he will set you free.
[At this point of the video, the lady co-host suggests that the woman contact a local church who will be able to help her get housing, and Robertson starts to agree with that advice, but goes on to victim blame some more and says,]
..First of all get your head together and say “Look, I made some awful mistakes, I repent, Lord help me,” and he will do it.
—end Pat Robertson quotes from the video–
Once more, Robertson shows a total ignorance of domestic violence dynamics, victim-blames the woman writing in with a question, and shows no tact or sensitivity.
His attitude is sadly pretty common among a lot of Christians though.
Most women who go to a Christian for domestic violence advice will simply be victim blamed, told they must be triggering their spouse in some manner, to never divorce the abuser, and to just “submit and pray more.”
(Related to that issue: (Link): Consider The Source: Christians Who Give Singles Dating Advice Also Regularly Coach Wives to Stay in Abusive Marriages)
Submitting and praying more does not stop the cycle of abuse – only leaving the abuser will stop the abuse.
If prayer stopped abusive husbands from abusing women, there would be no more abuse in Christian marriages, but it happens constantly, so quite obviously, God is not responding to prayers from desperate women who beg and plead with him to stop their spouses from abusing them.
You know this sexist, victim blaming advice does not set on par with the “family values” that Christians like Robertson bray about.
Victim blaming a domestic violence victim does not mesh with the Bible’s messages of God always siding with the downtrodden, abused, and hurting. God calls Christians to be empathetic to the hurting, and to offer them practical assistance – not sit in judgement of their supposed poor life-choice making capabilities (but again, in this case, we don’t know why this woman chose to date this man, as she does not say in her letter. Not that Robertson’s reply would’ve been okay had we known).
Regarding this remark by Pat Robertson:
“You started having an adulterous relation or a fornication with a person.”
Since when does Robertson oppose fornication? I have several examples on my blog from years past where someone writes him to say their spouse is fornicating, or that they themselves had sex prior to marriage, and Robertson always diminishes the gravity of that sexual sin (pre-marital sex) by just saying things such as,
“Pffft, it’s not big deal, stop beating yourself up for that, it’s over-rated, and besides, God created us all to be sexual beings”
– I have examples of this sort of response by Robertson on his show on my blog, see some of the links at the bottom for those examples.
The woman does not go into detail in to how or why she chose to live with this man she described in her question to Robertson.
We simply do not know why she chose him or chose to live with him – and neither does Robertson know, because she does not say.
I can only hypothesize, based upon (Link): past insensitive responses by Robertson to similar letters from other viewers, that Robertson presumptuously assumes, once more, that all women who live with or marry abusive men do so with their eyes wide open, and so, he blames them for being beaten and abused by the man they chose to live life with.
Robertson acts as though women deliberately choose to marry abusive men, which is usually not the case.
The fact is that (Link): some abusive men keep their controlling, abusive natures hidden from the woman they are dating until after the woman moves in with them, or until after they marry.
There is another reason why some women marry abusive men, one I don’t care to describe in this post, but as far as that other reason is concerned, it’s not because those women want to be abused, or “choose” to marry an abusive person.
While it is generally true that at times, some of us make bad choices in life, we don’t know if this woman knowingly chose to live with this man knowing in advance that he was abusive. Her letter does not tell us this information.
Even if she had known beforehand, it’s rather mean-spirited to chastize her for doing so, the way Robertson did.
Nobody deserves to be beaten, raped, or abused in other ways, regardless of any other factors involved.
If the homeless shelters are full where she is, maybe she could try a domestic violence shelter in her area. She is, technically, a DV victim.
Secondly, she might want to consider going to the police and telling them that her spouse was sexually abusing their daughter, and then make sure that she can get her children counseling, especially the daughter.
No, that woman is not being punished by God for living unmarried with a man.
There is a grain of truth in what Robertson said about people sometimes bringing their own misfortune on themselves by making poor choices in life, but the Bible instructs believers to refrain from answering as Pat Robertson did, because we cannot see into people’s minds, hearts, nor do we have all the details, so we cannot say.
Further, there are examples in the Bible where someone specifically asks Jesus Christ, who is God in the second person of the Trinity, “Is this person being punished for his or her sin?,” and Jesus replied, “No.”
The book of Job says that Job was a righteous man in God’s sight, but God permitted Job to suffer. God was not punishing Job.
So, the Bible itself says that sometimes when calamity befalls a person, there may be reasons that only God is aware of, and we cannot know those reasons this side of eternity.
For Robertson to reply as he did to that domestic abuse victim was insensitive. His choice of words was very poor.
You can see the viewer question and hear Pat Robertson’s reply in the video (Link to the Video) below, it comes in the last fifteen minutes of the show:
(Link): Women: Stop Asking Pat Robertson For Romantic Relationship Advice – Whether You Are Divorced or Single – Pat Robertson Replies to Letter from Four Time Divorced Woman Who Wants to Know If God Will Send Her a Non-Abusive Husband
(Link): Christian Host Pat Robertson Tells Christian Woman Who Married Christian Man Who Turned Out to Be Totally Unethical That She has Discernment of a Slug – Single Women: toss Be Equally Yoked teaching in the trash can