Free Saeed and Abuse

"For Naghmeh Abedini" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“For Naghmeh Abedini” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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I have followed the story of Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor who had been imprisoned in Iran since September 2012, but who has since been released. The campaign to have him released was #FreeSaeed on Twitter.

I was even more interested in his wife’s story. Late in 2015, Naghmeh Abedini shared through emails that she had been suffering from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse from her husband. A few weeks later she apologized for sending those emails. She stated that she was under a lot of stress, that she was still supporting her husband and working for his release, and that she had established boundaries for herself. It seemed like she was going to try to make this work, hoping that Saeed could be healed of his problems.

We talk a lot about marital and spiritual abuse at The Lasting Supper. (Join us!)

My reaction to this story is a strong one. If you read Why Imprisoned Pastor’s Wife Kept Her Marital Abuse a Secret… Until Now, you will see the impossible opposition Naghmeh was and probably still is up against. Just read the comments! There are just twelve comments with only one supporting Naghmeh, which suggests to me that the comments were closed due to the potential increase in the nastiness of the reactions to Naghmeh’s speaking up about her abuse.

This is not new to me nor is this topic new to my blog. I know many women who have spoken up about their abuse at the hands of their Christian husbands, even Christian leaders, only to have all the gates of hell prevail against them to be silent.

Marital abuse is one of the most unreported crimes. It is especially so in religious groups. Godly women should not complain, often don’t realize they are being abused but are just being submissive to the head of the household, should not bring disrepute on the church or a Christian leader, should suffer silently like a lamb to the slaughter, and should always find a way to fix the problem rather than run away from it.

It seems to me she must have received some kind of counsel on how to move forward. Her Facebook update in December suggests this. Who knows what’s going on behind the scenes? But her report certainly threw a wrench into the evangelical community, and I think a necessary one.

I admire Naghmeh for speaking up. It took a lot of exasperation or courage or both. I hope she is now walking or soon will walk in the freedom she deserves.

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51 Responses

  1. David Waters says:

    Off with their heads!! Death by bafangula!

  2. Adam Julians says:

    I don’t wish to undemine the important issue of abuse of women in the church by men / husbands. At the same time, I can’t help asking David given that thankfully it is becoming recognised that men get abused by women as well and thankfully society is becoming more welcoming to and supportive of men equally rather than treating them as feckless dweebs at best and misogynistic at worse for sharing of their receiving of mistreatment.

    I hope you would affirm that abuse is abuse and that a woman in power can be as abusive as a man.

    I don’t recall any of your cartoons reflecting abuse towards men by women. Would you consider including such in your repotoir?

    Thanks.

  3. I have no doubt women in power can be abusive. I have no doubt men are abused by women.

    But you might have noticed that I try to address epidemics such as the disrespect, oppression, marginalization, and abuse of women, especially in the church.

  4. Adam Julians says:

    I see, so you perceive it as an “epidemic” happening to women in the church and therfore this receiving attention in your cartoons.

    Well, it likely is true that there is less abuse of men by women, but enough of a number to be significant. And those men that are abused suffer just as women do.

    Thankfully for Naghemeh it seems her abuse has been taken seriously by her pastor with boundaries being put in place for her protection and being enforced for her safety until her an her pastor see changes in her husband.

    There seems forgiveness on her part, a continued interest in being proactive in seeking the best for her husband and taking care of her own needs.

    If things are as they seem in this, she is admirable and worthy of praise.

  5. Caryn LeMur says:

    Thank you, David, for drawing attention to the issue of abuse by pastors.

    Per the article you linked to, “Christian women, in particular, stay far longer in abusive situations and in more severe abuse than their non-Christian counterparts,” .

    I am glad Saeed is free.

    Yet, I hope they see a non-believing abuse-wise marriage counselor, if they wish the marriage to continue. [Believing counselors often, imo, keep trying to have the woman support her husband’s public image as part of their basic intrinsic beliefs. If the ‘man’ is automatically your ‘umbrella covering’, then it is difficult to tamper with your ‘shield of protection’, etc.]

    I also hope that Saeed leaves the ministry for a period of 5 years or so, and just works on the marriage. The ministry unfortunately feeds the male-dominant male-always-right subculture, and welcomes over-committed people into its ranks of heroes (rather than applauding balanced people who just happen to be a pastor by profession).

    Thank you, again, for the cartoon addressing this issue of pastors that abuse their wife.

  6. Thanks Caryn. This is my concern about what might have happened. She “came out” with her story of abuse. Not long after she apologized and said she had been under a lot of stress and was now emphasizing his possibility of healing and his pastoral gift. I hope church leaders didn’t pull her aside to convince her to support his ministry, be patient, work it out, give him time, then jump back in the game again.

  7. kris799 says:

    “But the Gospel is being spread” is such a disgusting rebuttal to abuse.

  8. Sarah says:

    I think your cartoon maybe gives more credit to the second character than even exists in popular discourse about this topic. At least the guy in the cartoon believes it happened and isn’t criticizing Naghmeh. I like the cartoon a lot, but I think most responses are more like this:
    – “Well, that’s her side of the story, anyway. We haven’t heard his.”
    – “She was just sick of advocating for him and this is how she justified stopping.”
    – “Even if it happened, sharing this information publicly is dishonoring and she is just trying to get sympathy.”
    – “As if he can abuse her from halfway across the world over Skype.”

  9. actually i thought of all those responses… but tried to sum it up in one… thanks though sarah… thanks for sharing your perspective.

  10. Mary says:

    Yes, it is an epidemic re women being abused… and is especially hurtful in the “church” when the leaders put more care into requiring “forgiveness” than they do in confronting the abusive man AND in caring for the wife while she decides how to escape the abuse.

    http://www.dvcpartners.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=48&Itemid=58 85% of abused “partners” are women. 85%. This is a fact.

    Between 2001-2012 nearly 12,000 women were murdered by their husband/boyfriend (almost twice as much as soldiers killed in the War during the same time frame). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/23/domestic-violence-statistics_n_5959776.html

    Having gone to a funeral last year of a woman who was murdered by her estranged husband, I was appalled by the Baptist message of “we need to forgive” him for what he had done… to his wife and to the others he also killed. Where were THEY while she was going through the abuse? They were encouraging her to stay in the marriage and LOVE him. Five little children with no momma. YES, it is an epidemic, Adam.

  11. Outrageous. And the overwhelming response to this revelation of Saeed Abedini’s abusiveness is that she was inappropriate in speaking about it.

  12. K.W. Leslie says:

    Spousal abuse disqualifies you from Christian leadership. Period. If that’s the way one “manages” his household, (1Ti 3.4, 12) it’s entirely antithetical to the grace of God. Should be a no-brainer, but when Christians are “man-crushing” on their pastor, brainpower is seldom a factor.

  13. Gwen Jorgensen says:

    Yes. Felt she was incredibly brave to come out with that, and admirable that she continued to advocate. Now, will come the tricky part of navigating through some healing. I pray she does not sign up for more abuse, or rationalize any attempt to live in denial about these issues. She sounds like an incredible woman. My prayers for them both. Hope good counsel is found.

  14. Yes Gwen. Me too.

    Thanks K.W.. Agreed!

  15. Adam Julians says:

    I hear you Mary, please believe me. Again I do not wish to undermine the importance of addressing the very real issue of need for addressing spousal abuse when women are being abuse by men. This word “epidemic” with how I used it might have been a trigger for you, you may even have thought that I am encouraging abuse of women by men in how I have commented. Some have perceived so before. I think , respectively it is a mistake if that is what you are doing.

    I have been called a feminist before because of how I have been perceived in making a stand for equality. My understanding of feminism is that it has been an important movement for obvious reasons but like any other human movement or ideology not real security can be found in it. There also is not parity in it.

    Thankfully its become OK now as a man to share of being abused by a women. I had experience of this just recently here, with receiving support. I am still getting my head around that having happened and not being treated as either a feckless dweeb, cry baby, or encouraging violence against women and being misogynistic.

    Abuse is abuse. That’s the point I want to make. I want abuse of any from to be addressed and addressed equally. I practice forgiveness not to “let someone off the hook” or to encourage violence to women (whether a women chooses to forgive or not is her freedom and her decision). When I choose to forgive, it is to heal and to not allow abuse that I have suffered to define who I am or to hold me in slavery to pain, bitterness, resentment and anger. It is for my freedom that I practice forgiveness whether that results in reconciliation with a guilty party or not.

    It is NOT (as some have suggested) encouraging violence against women, or supporting abuse of women. If anyone were to make the claim that me doing so is supporting abuse or encouraging violence towards women then I would suggest that what they are doing is dishonouring to my sharing and bordering on, if not being, abusive. Just as was stated by the support I received here by the person that commented that what happened in my last church was abusive towards me.

    I hope that clarifies any misunderstanding.

  16. Caryn LeMur says:

    Yes, I hear you. Bonnie (my wife) and I had a huge talk about this whole subject.

    ‘When do you handle it privately?’ ‘When do you escalate to ‘we see a counselor, or I am gone’?’

    ‘When do you make it public to ‘the church authorities’?’

    ‘At what point do you take the ‘church authority’s’ advice/instruction and comply (or not comply with their instruction)?’

    ‘At what point do you Bypass all this, and just go to a refuge house?’ ‘When do you urge the person to report the issue to police?’ ‘What if there are children?’ and so forth.

    So, your cartoon helps people to think things through.

    It is far more complex than an initial reaction… but I am concerned, as you mentioned, that the church is running interference for the sake of ‘glorious expansion of the ministry’ — when, in our opinion, the ministry is a distant second to reconciling with the spouse.

  17. “running interference”… yes… that’s what i’m afraid of

  18. BTW I lost a facebook “friend” over this post yesterday. He was vehement that I talked about this publicly and that Naghmeh talked about it publicly too. In fact, he was so angry he tried to insult me and called me “you Canadian!”

  19. Adam Julians says:

    But Canadians are nice. They get rid of all their aggression through hockey 😉

  20. Caryn LeMur says:

    Adam: lol! love that hockey comment! And you are right, spousal abuse is spousal abuse. A man that is abused by his wife has very few places to turn to for support.

    David: I did not realize that artic cold fronts made a person unable to speak about difficult subjects publically.

    What is the best environment for protection? for healing? Church institutions have, imo, been poor concerning the first question, and focused too much on the second question. And sadly, they introduced a third question, ‘What is the best environment for spreading the gospel?’

    What the hell???

    In a conversation I had yesterday on this subject, the other party was very strong about ‘being silent for the sake of Christ… this will negatively affect people ‘coming to Christ’….

    What about these things: Honesty. Grappling with real issues. Signaling to unbelievers that family is more important than ministry (or any job for that matter). Paying for marriage counseling. Running safe houses. Paying for recovery counseling. Supporting advocates. Recognizing that separation and divorce serve a purpose. Listening to both parties. Working with police rather than sweeping abuse under the rug.

    IMO, it is real people in the real world that make the Gospel attractive.

    The desire to use Marketing Techniques – let us pretend that our attendees are perfect families – for the spreading of the Gospel implode my mind…..

  21. Adam Julians says:

    Hey Caryn,

    Lol yeah I like hanging around with Canadians when they are not on the hockey rink 😉

    With you with what you say about real people in the real world. If what happens in church is not attractive to or relevant to the surrounding culture then something has to change. Or die out. There are churches and parachurch organisations that recognise this and make a great contribution to society. Always the case that there is bathwater to throw out and the baby to keep.

    For example working with police, Street Pastors have a hard earned good reputation over here for caring, listening and helping with nightclubbers at weekends.

  22. I don’t play hockey. But I am Canadian. I suppose maybe he felt I wasn’t qualified to speak on this issue. Don’t know. I’m interested to see how this story goes.

  23. Adam Julians says:

    But if what you did was fine then why have any concerns about being unfriended on Facebook?

    If this has been spoken about publicly, then that invites public discussion.

    You did nothing wrong by engaging publicly.

  24. Adam Julians says:

    Maybe he should play more hockey 😉

  25. LA says:

    I’m glad you’re talking about this. I tried, and was basically ignored. People would rather not have their shallow victories interrupted by the inconvenient truth. Women are devalued at every turn in this patriarchal society and the even worse patriarchal church.
    And for the fella up there who wants to flip the script and make this about # all abuse matters, sure it does, but we’re talking about women right now. I’m sorry you were abused, and I’d be happy to hear about it, but not when you come in changing the narrative so it’s not about women. Buddy, for us, it’s systemic. Men who are abused are significant, certainly, but you are the exception, not the rule. It’s just like carrying an “All Lives Matter” sign to a Black Lives Matter protest. It’s poor form. The funny thing is, as women, we’d be your greatest sympathizers because the MAJORITY of us would never do that to you. The same can’t be said of the male gender, which is why cartoons are necessary to confront this system of patriarchy and abuse.

  26. I do like hockey. Just don’t play.

    Thanks LA. This kind of thing often happens though. I do a cartoon on spiritual abuse and someone always has to say not all churches are like that.

  27. Adam Julians says:

    LA – perhaps you weren’t aware of what has been happening for me recently as shared here a couple of days ago. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and not take offence at what you have mentioned. It seems as it you could be panting me in the light of being “patriarchal” and making it “not about women”.

    In the light of what I have shared, what you have written was hurtful for me on reading it. Thankfully not everyone here is like that and there is at least one women who takes abuse of men seriously enough here to offer support.

    Imagine what it would be like for a woman to share about abuse and then someone say you have to submit. This “buddy” is the equivalent of what you are doing here.

    Thankfully David has experience of helping people and does not shoe himself to be as prejudiced as you. I am not using the term prejudiced here pejoratively. We all have prejudices.

    With all due respect, please think before you type in future.

  28. Well Adam, my friend, I do tend to agree with LA here. I’ve mentioned this to you before… that when we are talking about the abuse of women, it’s inappropriate at that time to say “Men are too!” Especially in this story that is real, dangerous, and fraught with agenda. This isn’t to say you haven’t been abused by a woman, and I’m very sorry that happened to you. It’s just to say that now a here is not the time and place. That’s what was meant. Imagine if we were in a small group, in a circle, and Naghmeh shared her story and you said what you said. It would have been unhelpful.

  29. Adam Julians says:

    I hear what you are saying David.

    I apologise if in my hurt I have failed to shown insensitivity towards women here or at any other time at naked pastor.

    I take on board what you say about timing. Of course if Naghmeh were in a circle with us it would be a different story either in person or, I would suggest online too. But she wasn’t here, so it’s not a like for like comparison. With all due respect, I resent the implication you make that I might “say what I have said” and not be sensitive to the context if she were here or in a meeting in person.

    Thank you for your empathy and understanding.

  30. Adam Julians says:

    typo “failed to shown insensitivity” should read “failed to show sensitivity”

  31. Well Adam actually she IS here. She’s seen the cartoon.

  32. Adam Julians says:

    In that case, my apology goes to Naghmeh for any comment I have made that has been insensitive to her feelings and story.

  33. k says:

    I don’t think it was ‘brave’ to accuse her husband of something, while he is in a prison in another country. That’s not the biblical way to deal with conflicts, nor was it in his best interests when people are trying to help free him. To be honest, I think it was an abusive act on her part. Regardless of whether her claims are valid, there is a right and a wrong way to dealing with those kinds of issues.

    I’m also having a hard time imagining how abuse could intensify as she claimed, when they weren’t even in the same room as eachother for three years, and had limited contact while he was imprisoned.

    I’m also having a hard time understanding how a battered woman would take to the limelight for as long as she has, and give us the impression she really wanted him to come home if he was as awful as she seems to portray him as. Most battered women would have quietly removed themselves from the situation and been grateful for the distance afforded. They would also fear repercussions of outing their spouse and not made a big public event of it, especially not talking to a Christian magazine. This does not ring true to me.

  34. Well K, your ignorance is overwhelming! May I strongly suggest that you do some reading on marital abuse? Why? Because:
    1. you suggest that she should be silent about her abuse for the sake of her husband
    2. you think abuse can only happen when they are in the same room
    3. most battered women don’t leave but stay in abusive relationships out of fear and shame
    To abuse a woman is a crime! It’s not just personal.
    Read up please.

  35. k says:

    Apologies, I posted that comment before I meant to. Feel free to delete my comment , if that seems appropriate (along with this response, if you wish)

    To clarify, no I am not ignorant about abuse. I have some personal experiences in my own life, and two of my aunts were abused by their husbands. Also, I’m not suggesting she should remain silent. I’m concerned about the timing (given that he was still away in prison and needing the public’s support to secure a release). I think there’s a proper way to do this. It is terribly unwise and unfair to make a public statement when he is unable to respond…that’s actually a kind of defamation of character.

    Yes, many battered women do stay in a bad relationship for too long. What does not sit well with me is the inconsistency in making such a strong public demonstration of support for him, if he has been so abusive. (given that she could have simply removed herself from the situation, embracing the space and safety afforded to her by his imprisonment)

    I do know abuse can occur through long distance communication. I have some experience of this as a victim. However, the claims she made were that he was sexually, verbally and psychologically abusive, which is a little incongruous given that we were lead to believe he didn’t have access to the outside world (or at best, extremely limited contact through his parents). Now we learn that they had Skype and phone calls?

    Also, how would Saeed have access to pornography in an Iranian prison (where pornography is illegal, and distribution of this is a punishable offense)?

  36. I feel, K, that I have to fill you in on details that you can read about if you google her story. The abuse has been going on for years, and his ability to continue to abuse her was extended through skype and phone. Sometimes the pain of abuse becomes so unbearable that now is the time for relief.

  37. Sarah says:

    K, you are suggesting she is lying and saying even if she isn’t, she shouldn’t have told the truth in the way she did. Those are pretty bad things to say to or about an abuse victim. Like, the worst.

  38. Adam Julians says:

    K – I can’t help feeling that you are trying to offer objectivity to the discussion and weigh things up. Something I try to do too.

    Going by the number of “dislikes” I got in my first comment and responses to that and the two likes to my apology what I take from this conversation is learning about timing and sensitivity. There may be some valid points that you have made and there may be some harsh reactions to those points. But then people who have been abused do react harshly.

    I’m not saying the harsh reaction is right, but I do acknowledge the reality that the pendulum does swing the other way often before settling in the middle. We can agree that those who are abusers have often been abused themselves, yes?

    How can anyone know what it’s like even with all the information available to know what Naghmeh is experiencing? Is it always the case that the women is a paragon of virtue and never uses her “vulnerability” to get her unrealistic expectations and demands met – no.

    Do I know what it has been like for the abuse you have experienced, do you know what it is like for me to have experienced mistreatment? Have we always conducted ourselves admirably or have we ever overcooked it by way of engagement?

    What I am learning is that sometimes sacrificing my needs and wants in the interest of timing and sensitivity to woman’s feelings is what is needed. If that places restrictions on my freedom of speech in the interest of a greater good then I am OK with that.

    I hope in the case of me doing that, that this will be returned at another time, but there is no guarantee of that. So it is risky.

    Sometimes doing the right thing is risky?

  39. Um… I do NOT see holding your tongue as being a restriction on your freedom of speech. It’s just being polite.

  40. Adam Julians says:

    David I’m OK with a difference of opinion over reigning the tongue in and not exercising freedom of speech. We have had differences of opinion before and I like to think we have conversed maturely and relationally well at such times.

    Respectfully,I think there is a slight disservice you are affording me in saying what I am doing here is “just being polite.” As communicated, I have experienced hurt and am willing to sacrifice my needs and wants in the interest of timing ans sensitivity to women’s feelings. I think that is a little more than offering a common courtesy.

    It seems that you may have the view that I have been “patriarchal” here and “taking the attention of women”. As stated in my first comment that was not my intention, but I confess might have been something I have done. However if that is true then Caryn will have been supporting “patriarchy” and “taking the attention off women” in her comment above “Adam… you are right, spousal abuse is spousal abuse. A man that is abused by his wife has very few places to turn to for support.” I don’t think that Caryn is doing that therefore, neither do I think I have been guilty of the same whether inadvertently or deliberately.

    I think therefore my actions with (exception of the timing) have been honourable. I think that is deserving of recognition as Is my willingness to sacrifice my own feelings for the sake of something bigger, in this case attentiveness to the needs of women who have been abused.

    I think if the focus were to be placed otherwise toward me, then I think that would take up energy that we all could be using in addressing the issue of abuse of women, which ironically would work out worse for women. I think having a man in power as an advocate for a woman can be very helpful. I have experienced this with a friend who has suffered marital abuse and this is what I would offer to be here if there is a welcoming to that. I would be lacking in care for myself if I did not ask for equivalence in attentiveness to my needs and by inference the needs of men in keeping with what Caryn has expressed as quoted.

    Nevertheless David I honour that this is your web site, you home you have the rudder of the ship and decide which direction it goes in here and give you my assurance to respect that.

  41. But do you see what you’ve done Adam? This is no longer about an abused wife, but you. Again.

  42. Adam Julians says:

    Which is exactly my point David, except that me making it about me has no credibility with me.

    Both of your last comments have been about me and not focusing on the issue of abuse of women. Which precisely is what I am getting at working out worse for women. You have let me know that sometimes you don’t understand what I am trying to communicate. Therefore it takes explaining for your understanding. Therefore my comments get longer to facilitate your understanding.

    The more you make this about me the more I explain and use time that could be used in offering service to women.

    This conversation is getting silly and playgroundish.

    So like I say it is your blog. If you want to paint me in a bad light that is your perogative. But I have made my apology and I think that should be enough. I honour nakedpastor but I am not here to massage your ego. You helped me with having spiritual freedom. I’m not going to let you make me a slave to you like I was to church.

    If you have a problem with that, that’s your problem, not mine.

  43. Adam Julians says:

    I’m starting to appreciate way your “friend” on Facebook got angry.

  44. H. Stevens says:

    “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”.
    “All have sinned & fall short of the glory of God.”
    Please, please, people, let this couple take the time they need (privately!) to come back together once again as husband & wife.. Allow the wisdom of Franklin Graham, and others, to feed their souls with good spiritual counsel. Allow them to confess in private all that they need to, and begin to build their marriage once again. Give them time to rest & restore!
    Saeed & Naghmeh have been through so much…what they need from all of us is our sincere prayers on their behalf–nothing more.

  45. Sarah says:

    “good spiritual counsel” and “Franklin Graham” together…I can’t imagine that.

  46. Adam Julians says:

    “Saeed & Naghmeh have been through so much…what they need from all of us is our sincere prayers on their behalf”.

    Yes. All that stuff above between me and David was not about Saeed and Nahmeh.

    Wisdom wherever it comes from to “feed their souls” is what is needed for Saeed and Nahmeh as is what is needed for all of us.

    With my friend who suffered marital abuse, she didn’t love here husband any less, she just wanted the abuse to stop and to have a loving husband. Well it did stop. It ended in divorce and she moved from Australia to Canada to be with her (now) husband who is loving to her and she couldn’t be happier.

    I hope that helps and offers hope to any woman that has been abused?

  47. Kris says:

    I left my cheating husband and because he was rich and supported the church i was abandoned while he was embraced. I told people in the church anout his emotional abuse and i was punished and austricized. My husband was not. I was crticized for making the abuse public. I finally left. He stayed in the curch and he and his mistress were warmly welcomed. I still think it was the 4,000 in tithe he paid every month. 2 months after he moved away the paster retired.

  48. Sad story Kris. I hope you’re okay now.

  49. K says:

    Sarah, I’m sorry if I came across as harsh. I have prayed for Saeed and Naghmeh for many years – waking in the middle of the night many times a week to pray and cry for them. If you read my comment, you know I’ve also had experience of domestic abuse (which I can’t discuss this here, for privacy reasons). I’m concerned for them both. For that reason, I don’t think it’s fair to assume anything.

    Adam, thanks for appreciating that I was trying to be objective. It worries me when someone is labelled as abusive before they can even respond. It’s obviously a very complex situation and therefore should probably be resolved in the context of a qualified psychologist, counselor, pastor and support network. (ie. rather than this being a public event, with magazines exploiting this for a good story) I believe Naghmeh would have been wiser to have declined to discuss this with the media, citing privacy needs.

    David, I apologize for sounding unsympathetic about Naghmeh’s situation. I can’t imagine how much stress she has been under as well…in some ways this experience has been a kind of prison for her too.

    I think my initial response reflects a sense of being misinformed about the situation…what we were told for the last 3 years about Saeed’s imprisonment conditions and limited contact, seems to be quite different to what we are now being told.

    From doing some googling, I’ve discovered that Saeed was imprisoned in Iran some years ago previously. I don’t know to what extent he may be suffering PTSD following that experience.

    What I do know is that Evin prison is considered one of the world’s worst prisons on the planet. I’ve read statements by other survivors who describe severe rape (injuries bad enough to cause death), being placed in stress-positions for days and weeks, being threatened with a firing squad (daily!) , being given lithium, being tasered (to their kidneys), being shown false information about their spouses to make them think they are cheating on them, telling them regularly that their families have been murdered or died in car accidents, packing prisoners in like sardines (some sleeping next to toilets), experiencing serious food, sleep and medical deprivation…among other things.

    To be realistic, what kind of quality of mental health or normalcy can be expected from someone in the kind situation he was enduring?

    Perhaps Naghmeh didn’t receive sufficient professional support from a psychologist (who deals with PTSD etc), on what to expect, or how to handle this, or how protect her own emotional / mental needs in the situation. I just hope they can get all the help they need to heal now.

    http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/english/publications/reports/3401-surviving-rape-in-iran-s-prisons.html?p=6

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/iran-blog/2015/aug/03/iran-evin-prison-like-torture-chamber

  50. Adam Julians says:

    “Adam, thanks for appreciating that I was trying to be objective. It worries me when someone is labelled as abusive before they can even respond.”

    I agree with you, I don’t think it is fair to assume anything.

    K- you are welcome. I share your concern about labeling. I reject the comment above about “changing the narrative” and implied “patriarchy” and support given for that for example above that I have received. Also, I think one or two of the comments toward you have been harsh and inaccurate and that you are deserving of an apology for them.

    I hope, in the interests of attention to the needs of women who are abused and survivors of abuse that objective voices can be heard and be influential an addressing this “epidemic” rather than being silenced and a culture fostered for healing rather than (albeit inadvertently) contributing to the continuing of the cycle of abuse.

    It never is easy to stand out from the crowd and risk disapproval but this inevitably is what change agents face. It takes courage to be like this, something you are showing as well as empathy.

    God bless you for that.

    I agree with you about Naghmeh being wiser to have declined the media and support for what to expect, how to handle what she is facing and to protect her own emotional / mental needs. I understand her reasons for wanting to go to the press.

    The information you have provided about the Iran jail is helpful and enabled understanding as to what may be contributing to some of the distress Naghmeh is facing in her Skype calls with Saeed. Thank you.

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