Forgive me for risking being burned at the opinion stakes: Juanita Bynum is neither the new name nor face of domestic violence.
Yes her bishop husband, Wilmington’s Thomas W. Weeks III, beat punched, choked and kicked and stabbed her two months ago.
Thousands of other women around the world get the daylights beat out of them daily, down to this very second.
Unfortunately, they don’t have a multi-million dollar, book publishing, and preaching and prophesizing empire behind them.
This story topped the Internet’s search engine charts so quickly that AOL saw response hit 100,000 after the first day it broke.
But the marketing of this event, as if to retool a second wing of her career to more than likely pay off mammoth debts, is rightfully rubbing more than a few fellow church women, many who have been abused, the wrong way.
But these women are now being skewered in the blogosphere for saying,”Hey wait a minute here! When did a self-professing ‘bulldog’ become the face of the personal hell we’ve endured for years?”
As these women are being pilfered for being “judgmental” they wonder why Bynum supporters cite Jesus’ warning against judging others, but don’t go on to the next several versus that say you can tell a tree by the fruit it bears.
And there has been plenty of fruit. A wedding party of 80, 1,000 guests, a 12-piece orchestra a 7.76-carat diamond ring. The black-tie event cost “more than a million,” the bride said. Flowers were flown in from around the world. “My dress,” she says, “took nine months to make.” The headpiece was sterling silver.
What’s most troubling are reports of video tapes where the “prophetess” alludes to physical violence that was mutual.
It’s interesting that another televangelist, Creflo Dollar –the last name literally characterizes his millions — sounded more like Steve Harvey of morning talk radio who’s been telling women for the last year or so to “get yourself a real man” to go pay the “him” who’s doing the beating a visit.
But most women who are being terrorized don’t have access to a strong henchman. These women in the pew, like secular domestic violence counselors, and quite a bit of learned-ordained women, are right to mutter “physician go heal thyself first.”
Bynum is concerned that her followers will view her as a damsel in distress. She wants to be their example of how to overcome. If the cruelty, as she alleges has been ongoing throughout the marriage, it takes more than a minute to get over it and become a poster child for domestic violence.
That’s because no one face can define such a hard-core evil.
The same is true for women who survive, like the women who captivated the audience at The Fund For Women’s celebration of philanthropy in Delaware on Tuesday.
Like Bynum, she had two long-term relationships with men who beat her religiously. However, this woman used a serious drug habit to compensate for years.
Now at 39 she is a recent graduate of the YWCA’s Home-Life Management Center that provided her with what hiding out in the network of 30-day shelters lacked. For nearly four years, she got a stable address, a staple for consideration on any employment application.
She also got basic job training and help with financing her education. She kept apologizing for trying not to cry at how grateful she was that the YWCA program was a safe-haven that rescued her not just from domestic violence but gave her self-sufficiency.
She even told the audience she had the confidence — not arrogance — to proclaim that others should follow her example.
“I mean I wouldn’t have said this to anybody five years ago.”