Dr. Leona Stucky writes about violence against women

Dr. Leona Stucky has written an eye-opening account of the violence she experienced in her own home as a young Mennonite woman in her memoir, The Fog of Faith: Surviving My Impotent God. She calls this treatment the Invisible American War. The numbers of those affected are staggering, and bringing their turmoil into the light still escapes us.

Dr. Stucky says there is denial about the violence against women and men in America. To. This. Day. Choices readers: please tell us your ideas of how to bring these atrocities into the light. We need your help.

Public Denial of Violence Against Women

by Dr. Leona Stucky

The Fog of Faith: Surviving My Impotent God is an historical personal account of a young Mennonite woman who finds herself on the front lines of the Invisible American War.

I remember the breathless reaction I had when, years after my war experience, I read in Jeff Wolf Wilson’s book, Children of Battered Women, that during the same years that the US lost 39,000 soldiers in the Vietnam War, 17,500 American women and children were killed by members of their families.

I was shocked. I had almost become one of those 17,500 women, but if I had to guess, at the moment I read those statistics, I might have thought 500 to 1000 women had been killed in that period – suffering unknown traumas, perhaps tortured for years before their deaths. I had been. My son’s life had been altered by the horrors.

It started to soak into my resistant brain. It wasn’t 500 or a 1000, it was 17,500. Why didn’t I know?

A veritable massacre of 17,500 women and children had happened, here in the USA, in our own homes, during the same years that we sent young men to fight in Vietnam. Who knew?

Why were these 17,500 American women and children seemingly invisible, when the war in Vietnam was ubiquitous on our screens and in our minds?

Ready-made justifications jumped into my mind as whole sentences. The nation attended to a real war. Men were suffering and dying. Our national honor was at stake. It was a galvanizing time for the whole country!

Yes, it was a galvanizing time and that war should have mattered to the whole country.

Should it also have mattered that 17,500 women and children were being murdered right here in our country, where we could have intervened if we had paid attention? Was it a national tragedy that our American homes were war zones?  That women and children huddled in fear of the moment Dad would come home and all hell would break loose? That women could be taken down and brutalized when they were hanging out laundry, singing on the porch, or nursing a baby?  That cleaning the dishes or vacuuming or putting on makeup were not safe activities, certainly not for me?

Going to Canada was not an option. Few structures were in place to help people caught in this Invisible War.

Furthermore, 17,500 were only the most unlucky few – those who paid the ultimate price. Those 17,500 could be at the apex of a huge pyramid graph. The first level below the apex would be an expanded area for the many who were tormented, beaten, kicked, punched, thrown up against the wall, strangled, stabbed, clobbered with household items, and maybe raped countless times. Those who lived in fear or terror many days of their everyday lives, and who somehow sneaked by to live another day – they would be in the second level.

My son and I would have been placed on the second level if there had been a graph.

The third, more expansive level, would be those who were periodically pressured into something they didn’t want to do, who were controlled and verbally abused, who were demeaned and shamed into submission. Their lives too were a living hell, just without so much violence, and without clarity about their relational struggles. They too were unknown women and men in an Invisible War.

While our nation choreographed our movements in another world, the rising death toll in our own territory was not deemed significant enough to stop women and children from being scattered asunder like refugees, or ripped out of their own homes and murdered in cold blood.

Would it have been different if the numbers had been different – if the deaths abroad had been 17,500 and the deaths at home 8,000?  Or what if the deaths in the Invisible War out-numbered those soldiers who died abroad?

We know the answer. In an AP interview on October 1, 2014, Gloria Steinem reported that more women were killed by their male intimate partners than all the Americans killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq war and the 9/11 terrorist attack, combined. The Invisible War had remained invisible.

I couldn’t speak about the war I endured and no one spoke to me about it. It was not a subject for polite conversation. Family and close friends celebrated my reprieves. No one  bothered to spit on me for being in that war until I needed welfare to get out of it. Nor did I or any of my female compatriots, who I didn’t know existed, get veteran benefits. We were not among the candidates in PTSD studies. No lofty speeches addressed our bravery. No one constructed a wall to memorialize those of us who died.

An 18 hour public television series cataloguing our experiences and peoples’ reactions to the Invisible War has not yet been conceived, though the war itself was fought in every community, town, city, and state across our entire nation.

It’s as if people have no idea that bullets actually penetrate invisible people and they bleed out like visible people do. They also suffer, writhing in anguish when they are tortured and beaten. These invisibles say prayers, suffer battle fatigue, exhibit super-human strength sometimes, go in to save others sometimes (of course no bronze stars or purple hearts) and they sometimes come out of war addicted to substances.

Final Thoughts:

These invisibles were supposed to shut up and survive or shut up and die and few people intervened.

After shutting up for 50 years, I finally opened my mouth and out came a book, The Fog of Faith: Surviving My Impotent God. It covers my war experience which included some startling discoveries about my questionable God.

Facts to consider about the current US Invisible War (https://ncadv.org/statistics.)

  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.
  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States have been raped in their lifetime.
  • 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner, 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female.

Is there value in bringing the Invisible War into the light?  If so, how do we proceed?

About The Fog of Faith: Surviving My Impotent God:

After the trauma of a savage attack, a farm girl recovers physically, but her identity, faith, and relationships are shattered.

This is the true story of Leona Stucky’s childhood on a Kansas farm, surrounded by a loving family and the simple tenets of her Mennonite community. Violence enters her world in the guise of a young man who seems normal to everyone else but who Leona knows to be deranged in his obsession with her.

His unrelenting abuses take root, and Leona must deal with them utterly alone. Her pacifist father cannot avenge or protect her, nor can a callous justice system. Even God is impotent.

Leona is cast into a bewildering life of disgrace and poverty—with a baby, a violent husband, and battered faith. Through a series of page-turning events, she hacks through the bones of her naïveté to confront harsh realities and to probe the veracity of religious claims.

The Fog of Faith is a suspenseful and morally unflinching drama of shame and survival, as well as usable and unusual wisdom.

This edition includes thoughtful questions for readers and groups to further explore their own stories.

Paperback:   340 pages
Genre:  Memoir
Publisher:   Prairie World Press (May 25, 2017)
ISBN-10:   099864742X
ISBN-13:  978-0998647425
Amazon Link: click here

Praise for The Fog of Faith:

The voice of this woman’s spirit and courage rings clearly as she faces the personal challenges of her faith—when the adversity in life tests the veracity of her beliefs against the reality of terror. This book is an important, insightful book that I highly recommend. – Michael Paymar, author of Violent No More: Helping Men End Domestic Abuse

Naked with fear, aflame with rage, at once heart-pounding and heart-breaking, this true tale climbs from the wheat fields of Kansas to the promised Heaven above—and down again. – Robert Mayer, author of The Origin of Sorrow, The Dreams of Ada, Superfolks, and other books

About the Author:

She fit bucking bales into God’s plan, but bucking fear left this Mennonite farm teen begging and now, after 30 years as a professional psychotherapist, Dr. Leona Stucky narrates her unflinching faith-and-violence dilemma in a riveting memoir, The Fog of Faith: Surviving My Impotent God, which spares neither God nor violence against women and has been recommended by MS Magazine.

Dr. Stucky first received a degree in psychology and philosophy from Boston College, graduating summa cum laude, before plunging into seminary, first at Andover Newton Theological School and then at Eden Theological Seminary. She earned a doctorate from Southern Methodist University with honors, and a Diplomate certificate from the American Association of Pastoral Counselors—their highest credential—for teaching, supervising, and offering therapy services. She currently has standing as a Unitarian Universalist community minister.

These professional explorations might have quieted her mind, but the areas where integration seemed impossible became mental sand kernels disrupting many intellectual resting places. Being fiercely honest in confronting contradictions, she honed her wisdom, gained unusual insights, and enjoyed a professional and personal journey that could only be shared by telling the whole story. After numerous failed attempts, Dr, Stucky finally completed The Fog of Faith: Surviving My Impotent God.

The provocative title aptly indicates the unflinching moral dilemmas she reveals. The gripping story reads like a real-life thriller that readers can’t put down.  Still, each step grounds itself in nuanced networks of passion, relational complexities, cultural and religious dilemmas, circumscribed choices bound by woman’s poverty, persistent violence, and an untamable resilient desire to redeem herself with or without God.

To find Dr. Stucky online click below:

Link to her Website 

Link to Amazon

Link to Facebook

Thank you, Dr. Stucky, for your bravery and resilience. There are no words.

Thank you, WOW! Women on Writing, for helping to bring Dr. Stucky’s story into the light.

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Comments

  1. Thanks Ms Sharples for posting my blog on the Public Denial of Violence Against Women or, The Invisible War, as I call it. I so appreciate your introduction. We need all the help we can get to make these realities stick so the public really gets it. We are finally hearing about bits of inappropriate behavior by famous men. It is so important that we realize that what we are starting to see is the tip of the iceberg. We are hearing nothing of the massive numbers of not-so-famous cases that have crashed into women’s lives forever and ever. To say nothing of the violence and other abuses. People think women’s issues are about a few unfair practices that we scream to high heaven about – they have no clue. I don’t know women who don’t have stories about privileged men trying to take advantage of them when these men have power over women. I’m not at all saying all men do it. I’m saying enough do that, in the average working life, most women have experienced some of this. I would love to see the figures, if they could be accurately discovered.

    • Madeline Sharples says:

      Thanks for your insightful words.I agree with you 100 percent. My #metoo story will come out on this site tomorrow. I hope you’ll take a look.

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