I read two terrible news articles over the weekend that had me grieving and got me all riled up.
News article #1: A woman reports her rape to her Christian college, and is then is banned from campus for having pre-marital sex.
NBC News explains what happened:
When Mara Louk told an administrator at Visible Music College, where she was a senior, that a male classmate had choked and raped her last November, she expected that school officials would help her file a police report and arrange a safety plan.
Instead, she said in a federal complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday, administrators at Visible, a Christian college in Memphis, Tennessee, accused her of breaking school rules against premarital sex with a different student, an ex-boyfriend. She denied having sex with him but said the school threatened to expel her unless she signed a confession and finished the school year remotely.
The timeline looks like this:
- November 2: A male classmate comes over to her apartment to play board games. He rapes her.
- November 3: She tells the school administration because he’s in her classes and she doesn’t want to get harrassed
- November 4: She files a police report
- The following week: The police say there isn’t enough evidence to proceed with a criminal charge
- November 15: The school tells her and her parents that there is nothing they can do because the police failed to file. Meanwhile, the accused student had told the administration that she had had sex with an ex-boyfriend, and the ex-boyfriend confirmed it. She denied it, but the school accepted these accusations and told her she was banned from campus.
And people wonder why women don’t report.
Now let’s look at an even worse case.
Case #2: A young mother is strangled to death by her abusive, porn-using entitled husband.
Amber Guichelaar was killed by her husband Richard, who initially strangling her in her bed, while their 8-month-old lay in a crib nearby. Later, when police found notes that Amber had written about all the physical abuse, and the question she asked herself–“am I safe sleeping next to him?”–Richard changed his story.
But friends and family described this sham of a marriage:
Indeed, friends told police Richard Guichelaar did so little around the house that Amber Guichelaar basically had three children: the two girls and her husband. The imbalance of duties sometimes prompted fights, according to one of the close friends.
“(The friend) did not know of any physical violence between Richard and Amber. (She) stated that when she would hear about these fights it would be after the fact when Amber would mention it during conversation by saying things along the lines of Richard is doing better because he broke his Xbox,” Dykgraaf reported.
“(The friend) stated the most recent fight she could think of was during the initial COVID 19 outbreak when everything was locked down and everyone was quarantined in the house together. She stated she did not know what the fight was about, possibly Richard not helping with children, but Richard picked up the high-chair and broke it,” Dykgraaf wrote.
One thing Richard Guichelaar did do, despite his wife’s vehement protest, was watch pornography. The couple fought over the issue in text exchanges one week before the murder.
When Amber’s sister asked by text what she wanted for her birthday, she replied, “a new husband.”
Two days later, Amber Guichelaar was dead and police had a prime suspect in her husband.
I want to review many of the aspects of their marriage that came out in the trial:
- Richard kicked her, punched her, and physically abused her
- Richard refused to help with the 2-year-old and the 8-month-old, and became enraged if the baby woke him up at night, so that Amber had to get up immediately and make sure the baby didn’t cry
- Richard became enraged if the house got too hot or too cold, and took that out on Amber
- Richard routinely broke things in the house–a high chair; a TV; furniture. He smashed her cell phones, punched holes in the wall, and more
- Richard refused to do any housework at all and became angry if she asked him to help
- He was a master storyteller and could get people to believe his version of things
- He watched porn constantly
The trial also heard how he was violent as a child and teen and his family was afraid of him. He would threaten to burn down the house or hurt people.
What we see here is a man who feels completely entitled to life the way he wants it.
If Amber did anything that wasn’t the way he wanted it to be, he felt that gave him the right to hurt her, hurt her things, or rage at her.
His abuse, in his mind, was her fault, as many abusers say, because he felt entitled to life exactly on his terms.
This is one of the things that porn repeatedly teaches people, too, and why it’s so destructive the longer you’ve been using it. Porn teaches the user that you deserve to get gratification any way you want it, and that others exist only to gratify you. Porn breeds and feeds narcissism. Though not all porn users will have this effect, many definitely will. And in marriages with this kind of violence, or in sex crimes, porn pretty much always plays a role today. So though it doesn’t hurt everyone, those who end up hurting others almost always have a link to porn.
Here’s what I want people to see: that entitlement did not show up only in physical abuse. It showed up in how he treated his children (they were entirely her responsibility, and their legitimate needs were an affront to him). It showed up in how he expected the household to run (he should not be expected to do any work for himself; other people exist to serve him).
Church, can we start recognizing red flags?
Please, can we start seeing that the way that the church often encourages us to do life–where the house and children are entirely her responsibility–can breed narcissism? Can we recognize that this entitlement is the root of abuse?
No, not every man who never changes a diaper will hit his wife. But pretty much all men who are abusive like that are terrible parents and feel entitled to having his wife serve him. No, not every man who never does housework will choke his wife, but pretty much every man who chokes his wife will also refuse to do housework.
We need to recognize that entitled behaviour in any one area is a red flag and means that the man should be shunned because he is not safe
- If he uses porn and refuses to stop or work at his recovery
- If he won’t care for the children
- If he insists his wife serve him and refuses to do housework
- If he spends money as he wants but she isn’t allowed to
These things are often evident even in a dating relationship. If he is entitled, he is not a good marriage partner.
Amber was very involved in her church, and had gone on missions trips.
Amber loved Jesus. She met Richard when she started teaching at a Christian school where Richard’s dad was the principal. She met him in Christian circles.
And he still killed her.
And this is going to keep happening, and keep happening, and keep happening until something is done.
Women and our allies, it’s up to us.
I’m going to be blunt. We can’t stop abuse and rape by changing laws or changing policing or changing church policies. These things are all important, and we need to keep at those efforts, and I do believe in them.
But bad men will always exist. (I understand bad women exist too, but when we’re looking at homicide rates or rates of sexual violence, domestic violence is a leading cause of death among women. It isn’t comparable the other way around).
Do you know what will stop things? If women refuse to support institutions that harmed us. Imagine if all the girls (and their allies) walked out of classes at Visible Music School. Imagine if no girls (and allies) decided to enroll next year.
And when it comes to men, what if we raised a generation of girls who could recognize red flags? What if we raised a generation of girls where instead of pounding “submission, submission, submission” into their brains, we taught them “red flags, red flags, red flags”?
Mara recognized red flags.
When she was sexually assaulted, she reported it. She didn’t blame herself. She knew it was wrong. But the system failed her.
And so it isn’t enough to just see the red flags in the men we’re with. We have to see them in the systems, too. In the universities. In the churches. In our families.
We need to start saying, “I will only go to places that are safe. I will only be with people who are safe. I will not support or encourage any sort of entitled behaviour in men.”
I don’t know what that would look like, but I keep coming back to Beth Allison Barr’s question at the end of her book The Making of Biblical Womanhood:
What would happen if we all just stopped?
What if we refused to date these guys? What if we shunned them socially? What if we refused to go to churches where men like these were in leadership? What if we refused to go to churches where male entitlement was preached? What if we refused to send our girls to universities where they didn’t handle sexual assault complaints appropriately?
What if we all just stopped?
Because Amber deserved better. Her children deserved better.
Red flag, red flag, red flag. Let’s teach our girls to recognize them. Things have to change.
Are you in a marriage with one of those red flags?
Please know that you do not need to tolerate this. You can draw boundaries. If it is unsafe for you to draw boundaries, please call a domestic abuse hotline:
If you recognize yourself in these stories, please contact a Domestic Violence Hotline
- Canada: 800.799.SAFE (7233)
- United States: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673).
- United Kingdom: 08 08 16 89 111
- Australia: 1800 015 188
- New Zealand: 0800 456 450
- Kenya: 0-800-720-072
- Nigeria: 0800 033 3333
- South Africa: 0800 428 428
But please know: You do not have to tolerate porn use. If he refuses to get help, refuses to quit, or is secretive about it, tell others. Seek out support groups online. You don’t have to accept this or keep it quiet.
If he feels entitled to be looked after by you without putting in effort himself, please think about learning boundaries. Check out my series on Iron sharpening iron. Read the book Boundaries in Marriage. Do something. It won’t get better on its own. And I’m so sorry that you’re walking through this!
These stories have just gutted me this weekend. What’s your reaction? What can we do?
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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