Friday, March 25, 2005

Is Divorce the Answer to Spousal Abuse?

2 comments Posted by Hannah at 7:49 PM

I have seen and heard of many people that have worked, forgave, and did everything humanly possible to do their part in reconcilation. Prayer, Study, Counseling, and still the unrepentant spouse remains emotional abusive, verbally abusive, and/or physically abusive. The loops they jumped threw, and the goals they met. There is more than one reason why someone would question if it is time to file for divorce. It has nothing to do with the pat answers most hear spoke about, and the tough thing is I don't think most realize how much people suffer...even after making this decision.

I have been doing some housekeeping, and I remember finding this article and asking her permission to reprint it here. I think its still offers insights that some may find helpful. She speaks clearly on issues of domestic abuse. I hope you enjoy the article!

Note: The website has since gone down. If anyone is aware of where Ginny is now writing please let me know!

Is Divorce the Answer to Spousal Abuse?
By Ginny Hunt

Divorce-- the severing of a covenant, the dissolution of vows. For the abused woman, divorce looms as the death knoll to all her strenuous efforts at keeping her family intact. It is also a frightening prospect as many abusers are so obsessed with controlling their wives that they would refuse a divorce even if it meant killing their wives instead. Seventy-five percent of all domestic homicides against women occur during the time when the victim is in process of leaving her abuser. When I was attending a support group for battered women, one member of our tight-knit and trusting group was murdered by her estranged abusive husband. He would rather she be dead than allow her to go through with the divorce she had filed. I attended her wake and her funeral and I am painfully and intimately familiar with the extreme danger of spousal abuse now. Still, knowing Jackie the way I did, I know she would not have chosen otherwise. To have stayed in the marriage was killing her, just more slowly. Watching the courageous women in my support group trudge week after week into the police stations and courthouses to file yet another criminal charge, another court order, another motion to keep them and their children safe from these men with whom they had once shared a home, a life, their beds, helped me to understand that divorce is never the option of choice for battered wives. Instead, most women would rather cling to the hope that our abusers will one day wake from their self-centered and destructive sleep and see us for who we really are, love us as we desire to be loved and we would live happily ever after. The realization that this outcome is never to be is a crushing defeat for the abused woman. Hope is what has kept her going through the beatings and verbal lashings. Hope is what has held her captive. Hope has been her only reason for living. To lay hope aside is utter defeat for the abused wife. Those who would say that divorce is the "easy way out," do not understand ease. It is obvious to anyone who has been privy to an abusive relationship that those are utterances of ignorance.

Christian women often have yet another obstacle to finding freedom from abuse: their own religious training. In error, many pastors and Bible teachers, especially of the more fundamentalist Protestant leanings, continue to teach that a wife must remain in submission to her husband even through abuse and that divorce is never an option for a Christian couple. There are several different interpretations of Bible passages concerning divorce. All may be applicable to one's individual circumstances or none may be. Personally, I do not desire to find a "legal loophole" in Scripture because Scripture, to me, is not a legal document or a code of laws but a labor of love, a message from my heavenly Father. The Lord ordained that marriage be a blessing between two who desire to become one. We compliment one another. We dance together as we navigate the steps of our lives. We support one another, submit to one another, sharpen one another and love one another. Or so it should be. When a husband has been regularly abusive over the course of several years and after repeated attempts to confront and expose his sin he continues his attacks unabated, even a devout and conservative Christian woman may begin to think about divorce. Divorce is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her husband and her God.

Once a woman asked me, "What about those who choose NOT to divorce ...? Is their marriage still "nullified...with the Lord's OK"? What exactly nullifies the marriage? Do they need to remarry one another, renew their vows? How does one person's sin negate the vows of another?"

Willingness to reconcile on the part of the offended is a mark of the love of God in that person's heart. It is the model God has given us in the story of Hosea, that of the offended Hosea pursuing the unfaithful Gomer as a picture of God Himself pursuing His adulterous people. It is the act of Jesus who lays down His life "while we were yet sinners." Forgiving love is the inconceivable, unexplainable pursuit of the offender by the offended for the sake of restored relationship with God, self, and others. (Dan Allender, Bold Love p.29) One can be willing to reconcile, even offer reconciliation, yet still have requirements, standards and boundaries that need to be met in order for that reconciliation to take place.

Jesus noted that the bill of divorcement was only given in the first place because men's hearts were hard. In Malachi, God reprimands men for dealing "treacherously" with their wives. Divorce is never, ever intended to be God's best, but sometimes, as in the case of unrepentant abuse, it may actually be a step towards moving from a state of lesser morality to greater morality. Divorce is usually a public acknowledgement of something that has already taken place in private, the nullification of a marriage, the dissolution of a partnership in all the ways that truly matter, in all the unmeasurable intimacies between a husband and wife. What exactly nullifies a marriage? The continual, unrepentant breach of the marriage covenant in a way that harms the persons involved. The question then is, "Does the sin of one allow for the sin of the other?" Well, not exactly. That question presupposes that an abused wife would be "sinning" by filing for divorce, and that is something not all Christians agree upon. Many devout Christians see divorce as a tragedy but not as a sin.

My ex husband was flagrantly adulterous and committed various kinds of criminal acts including sexual molestation of teenage girls for which he was arrested twice during our marriage. He had repeated affairs and one-night-stands with whomever would comply with him or whomever he could coerce, which finally resulted in a baby, born out of wedlock two years after the birth of our own son and while we were still very much married. When confronted with these affairs and illicit activities, his response was rarely repentant. It was more along the lines of "Don't cage me in. I need my freedom." More often, he lied and denied them. He also forced me into unnatural acts and raped me repeatedly, as well as beat me, tied me up, locked me out of the house, knocked me unconscious, and many other criminal and abusive acts. After repeated unsuccessful attempts to persuade him into marriage counseling, I finally went into counseling myself. At first, the counseling focused on what I could do to better my marriage -- for I was not looking for a way out in the beginning -- and I put the newly learned communication skills into practice. However, without the cooperation of my husband the marriage only became more and more unhealthy. I finally had to accept that my husband was simply not willing to be married to me. He didn't file for the divorce as life in the status quo was grand for him and suited his needs just fine. He had a full-time wife and mother of his child at home to keep his house, raise his son, wash his clothes and cook his meals as well as partner with him in the home business while he busied himself with his adulteries and criminal activities. He had little incentive to better himself or his marriage, no immediate or compelling reason to change.

After one particularly cruel tirade I left -- fled -- to a battered women's shelter seeking refuge, not a divorce. Hope springs eternal in the heart of a battered woman and I still hoped that my batterer would see the light. Upon entering the judicial system hoping to receive court protection for myself and my son, I soon found that divorce was necessary to be eligible to receive the protection I needed. I learned that no judge would take my requests for protection from violence seriously unless I was also, in conjunction, requesting a divorce. So I filed for divorce knowing that I could drop the divorce proceedings if my husband evidenced any sign of repentance or change. Instead, he sued for custody, an act that resulted in a lengthy and heart-wrenching series of court appearances and a legal bill I would be paying for many years to come. He continually harassed us with the legal system and refuses to this day to pay child support. These are obviously not the actions of a repentant man and I felt no compelling obligation to offer reconciliation to him under such circumstances. In fact, to offer an unrepentant abuser reconciliation is to put a silent stamp of approval upon his sinful and destructive actions.

The Bible regularly deplores violence and abuse, especially of those weaker and in less of a position to defend themselves. The state in which a battered woman lives daily can be accurately described as a state of oppression. Biblically, an oppressed person is one who is crushed, injured, and afflicted. To oppress someone means to press upon, defraud, violate, deceive, drink up, to use and to do violence or wrong. Other meanings include cracking in pieces, literally or figuratively. To break, bruise, crush, discourage, oppress, and struggle together. These words paint an accurate picture of what happens to the victim of abuse. So, while many think the Bible is virtually silent on the topic of domestic violence, it isn't. In fact, it has much to say. One pivotal Scripture verse is found in Malachi 2:13-16: And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, inasmuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand. Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. In these verses, the Lord, speaking through the prophet Malachi, is condemning the Israelites for domestic abuse. He plainly states that this was not why He ordained marriage, that women are not to be treated in this fashion, that the men's prayers weren't even being heard because of their violence against their wives. Unfortunately, many churches simply focus on verse 16, "God hates divorce," alienating it from the context, thereby using it as further oppression against women who are being abused and who seek safety through divorce. The traditional teachings concerning wifely submission, divorce, and the role of women within marriage in the traditional and conservative Christian home actually conspire with the abuser to sabotage many women's health and well-being. Most abused women find little sympathy or support within the church after sharing the secret of their domestic abuse. Many pastors continue to counsel women in these situations advising them change their ways, presuming that there must be something the victim is doing to provoke her husband to violence. Women in traditional fundamentalist churches are often taught to believe that they can change a man through prayer and submission according to verses such as 1 Peter 3:1: "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation [behavior] of the wives." Women who are being regularly beaten are, by virtue of a literal rendering of that one verse taken out of context, being put into the position of thinking that their husband's walk with God is their responsibility and that if they remove themselves from harm, they will be responsible for their husbands going to hell or falling into sin because their behavior wasn't convincing enough.

First of all, the language in 1Peter 3:1 speaks of unbelieving husbands, not those who claim to be Christians. In the giving of household instructions, as was very common in those days from leaders of various organizations, Peter addresses the various relationships in which power and control often determine the course of the relationship. First, in 2:13, Peter instructs submission to governmental authorities. There was often strife between governors and those whom they governed, and such contention often stood in the way of sharing the Gospel. It is also being assumed that, in general, the governing authorities are not believers. The principle objective of these passages is to demonstrate how one can, within traditionally hierarchical and authoritarian relationships with unbelievers, share Christ. Governing authorities were more likely to listen to the rational words of people who were peaceful and law-abiding. Secondly, Peter recommends servants to submit to their masters so that the masters, assumed to be unbelievers because slavery was not approved of for Christians, could see the Christlikeness of the Christian servants and be swayed by their actions. Likewise, Peter recommends that women who are married to unbelieving husbands do the same so as to be a witness for the Gospel. He goes on to speak to husbands of unbelieving women. I can determine that they are unbelievers because he speaks to them reminding them that they are "heirs together of the grace of life," of zoe, which is mere vitality, not pneuma, which is the rational and immortal soul. Peter is saying that they have the gift of a life together here on this earth and that the husbands need to respect that life as God-given. Peter tells husbands to dwell with their unbelieving wives in understanding, giving honor, value, and dignity to them, as unto the "weaker vessel." Weaker here is comparable to the usage of the word in 1 Corinthians 8:9 where Paul is discussing the spiritually weaker brethren and the care which the stronger brethren ought to give so as not to stumble them. Therefore, I believe Peter is referring not to the physical attributes of women but to the spiritual state of an unbelieving wife who is married to a believing husband. Therefore, the argument that an abused woman ought to stay in close quarters with an abusive mate, whether he be a Christian or not, is taking 1Peter 3:1 out of context. Peter is clearly talking about how interpersonal relationships can serve as contexts for great witnessing potential and he is not speaking of particularly dangerous situations in which the victim, by her very presence, lends a hand to sin.

Research has shown that submissive behavior of battered wives might in itself provoke more violence. Many traditionalist Christians teach that the primary responsibility for a good marriage relationship lies with the wife and her submissiveness to her husband. Christian pastors often promise that God will take care of women who thus submit if there is any abuse, that God will honor their obedience. But the experiences of battered women are in sharp contrast to these misguided promises and erroneous assumptions about God and His Word. Traditionalist, fundamentalist Christians who adhere to these teachings truly need to reexamine the words of Jesus regarding authority and the exercise of power. In Mark 10:22-42 Jesus looks at the preconceived notions of male power and dominance and then He counters with: "Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all." Paul, likewise, combats the patria potestas or absolute male power philosophy of the ancient Gentiles with his insistence that Christian men, having agape love through his identification and relationship with Jesus, are motivated to freely sacrifice themselves for the sakes of their wives. James Alsdurf and Phyllis Alsdurf sum up this dynamic succinctly in their inspired work, Battered Into Submission (1989 InterVarsity Press): "To stress wifely submission in a vacuum devoid of husbandly love can result in a disregard for a woman's report of violence and place the woman and her children in great physical danger. Ultimately, it can perpetuate the cycle of violence. When the painful circumstances of battered women are ignored in order to elevate a legalistic standard, it produces people unable to 'rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn' (Romans 12:15)" Studies also indicate that this traditional view may be one of the factors involved in creating an environment for abuse. The rate of wife beating in couples where the husband dominated was found in a study by sociologist Kersti Yllo to be 300 percent greater than for egalitarian couples. The conclusion of the analysis was "regardless of context, violence against wives is lower among couples where there is a relative equality in decision-making...In general, domination of decision making by husbands is associated with the highest levels of violence against wives." Other studies have found similar results, the majority of battering of wives occurs in homes where the husband holds the reins of power. Critics might argue that these studies merely indicate that we are prone to our fallen flesh, and that God's word couldn't be at fault. I would agree that God's Word is not at fault, but that we have not taken advantage of the whole counsel of Scripture, and that we have traditionally favored certain verses over others, especially where male power and headship is reinforced. I believe strongly that the fault lies in us, not in the Scriptures, and a thorough and balanced reading with as few preconceived notions and biases as humanly possible will render a different result, a more egalitarian and just result where power is more equally distributed and shared mutually among members of the church and between husbands and wives.

The Bible speaks loudly and clearly on the subject of abuse and its root causes. It also speaks of God's heart concerning the abused. Psalm 9:9 says, "The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble." The Lord is compassionate and merciful and leans toward those who have no help but Him. He desires to be a refuge, a safe place, for those who find themselves broken, crushed, and taken apart piece by piece. God severely speaks against those who abuse their power and who use it selfishly and to hurt others. He never advises anyone to participate in that abuse. In fact, He goes farther and tells us to intervene, to "hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death" (Psalm 102:20) The Bible also bears strong words about what God will do to the abuser, the oppressors who wield their power in a harmful and unworthy manner: Psalm 72:43 says, "He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor" and Proverbs 14:31 states, "He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor." Interestingly, in that verse, the word used for poor doesn't indicate financial circumstances but instead speaks of dangling, being weak or thin and comes from a word meaning to be oppressed. Abuse incites God's anger like nothing else and gives Him cause for wrath. Psalm 12:5 says, "For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him." And may it be so, for every woman and her children suffering under the yoke of domestic oppression and family violence that this blessing of Scripture be given unto her:

In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. ~Isaiah 54:14

And so it may be necessary for an abused woman to file for and secure a divorce from her abusive husband. In doing so, she is participating not in sin but in breaking the yoke of bondage and oppression upon herself and her children. In fact, to stay and remain a victim of the abuser's violence would be a kind of participation in his sin, if only by remaining his victim. Ultimately, the decision remains with the abused woman and it is one that should be free from judgment from those she needs to support her in her stance against oppression - her church community.

All rights reserved by the author. No reprints in any form without permission.


Wings has many good resources for someone that is suffering oppression at home from domestic violence. Emotional abuse and Verbal abuse are also oppressive, and people tend to mininze them. Look to James 3, and tell me if you think God agrees!

Friday, March 18, 2005

5 Lies the Church Tells Women About Domestic Abuse

2 comments Posted by Hannah at 9:11 PM

I'm sure others have other attempts to show how the church is NOT dealing with domestic abuse of all kinds. As we know domestic violence is more than just hitting. It includes Emotional Abuse, Verbal Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Financial Abuse, and much MUCH more!


Probe Ministries
5 Lies the Church Tells Women
Sue Bohlin

In this article I look at five lies the church tells women, inspired by the book by J. Lee Grady called Ten Lies the Church Tells Women.{1} I'm not saying all churches say all these things, but there are certain pockets of Christianity where these lies are circulated.

Lie #1: God Created Women as Inferior Beings, Destined to Serve Their Husbands.
The first lie is that God created women as inferior beings, destined to serve their husbands. Those looking for Scripture to back up their beliefs point to Genesis 2:18, where God makes a "helpmate" for Adam. "See?" they say. "Helpers are subordinate to the ones they help, which proves women are here to serve men." This ignores the times in the Psalms (10:14, 27:9, 118:7) where God is praised as our helper, and He is certainly not inferior or subordinate to us!

Lee Grady points out, "It is a cultural bias, not a spiritual or scientific principle, that women were 'made' for the kitchen or laundry room. This is the most common form of male chauvinism, a burden placed on women by selfish men who want someone to wash their dishes."{2}

This view that women are inferior to men is not biblical, but it has infected the church from the beginning.

The Greek culture into which the early church was born viewed women as "half animal," unworthy of education, to be kept quiet and kept locked away, obedient to their husbands. In Jewish culture it was considered inappropriate for a man to even speak to a woman in public--including his own wife. A woman speaking to a man who was not her husband was considered to be giving evidence that she had committed adultery with him, and could be divorced. You can imagine the scandal Jesus caused when he regularly sought the company of women and talked to them, and taught them, just as he did men. Or when he allowed prostitutes to talk to him or pour perfume on his feet.{3}

Eve was not created to be Adam's servant, but his honored and respected wife and co-regent, fashioned to rule over creation with him. We see another picture of God's intention for the first Adam and Eve in our future as the church. The bride of the Second Adam, Christ, is created and is being fashioned to reign with Him forever.{4}

Lee Grady says, "Jesus modeled a revolutionary new paradigm of empowerment by affirming women as co-heirs of God's grace."{5} Paul continued this completely new, respectful view of women by inviting women to share in the ministry of the gospel and the church, and by teaching the equality of husbands and wives in the marriage relationship (although there is a biblical distinction of roles).

When God created woman, He didn't create an inferior being, He created what He delights to call "the glory of man."(1 Cor. 11:7)

Lie #2: A Man Needs to "Cover" a Woman in Her Ministry Activities. The second lie is that a man needs to "cover" a woman in her ministry activities. "In many cases, leaders have innocently twisted various Bible verses to suggest that a woman's public ministry can be valid only if she is properly 'covered' by a male who is present. Often women are told that they cannot even lead women's Bible studies or prayer meetings unless a pastor, deacon or some other man can provide proper oversight."{6}

One woman was told that she could not start a backyard Bible school class in her neighborhood during the summer unless her husband agreed to be present at each session and teach all the Bible lessons. Her church elders said she could plan each day's crafts and make all the snacks, but a man had to conduct the "spiritual" aspects of the outreach since he is the proper "covering."{7}

It is disturbing to think of the implication of this belief. When we, as women, use our spiritual gifts and respond to God's call to minister in various ways without a man present, is our ministry less legitimate and valid than a man doing the same work? What if a woman with the spiritual gift of evangelism senses the Holy Spirit directing her to speak to the cashier at the gas station, and there's no man around? On a personal note, when I am speaking at one of Probe's Mind Games conferences, do my lectures lack legitimacy or truth because the male Probe staff members are busy teaching in other rooms?

Ephesians 5:21 says, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Out of respect for our own weaknesses and limitations, I believe that all of us who wish to minister to others should pursue an attitude of humble submission to the body of Christ. We need to submit our beliefs and methods (and content, if we're teaching) to trusted believers who can provide support, direction, and, if needed, correction. And anyone engaged in ministry needs prayer support, which some have called a "prayer covering;" although that is not a biblical term.

But there is no verse that says, "If a woman teaches My word, make sure a man is present so she will be covered properly." Paul's instruction that older women teach the younger women doesn't include making sure that someone with a Y chromosome is present! What underlies this erroneous idea that a man's presence somehow validates any woman's ministry is, intentional or not, a profound disrespect and distrust of women.

Lie #3: Women Can't be Fulfilled or Spiritually Effective Without a Husband or Children.

The third lie is that women can't be fulfilled or spiritually effective without a husband or children. Some churches teach that God's perfect plan for every woman is to be a wife and mother. Period. Sometimes Christian women successful in business or some other professional field are made to feel unwelcome at a church, as if they are an unhealthy influence on "purer" women.

In some places, single women are prevented from leading home fellowship groups because they're single.{8} Others have been discouraged from running for political office or pursuing a graduate education because God's plan was for them to marry and keep house--even when God hadn't brought a groom into the picture!

Lee Grady says, "We must stop placing a heavy yoke on unmarried and divorced women in the church by suggesting that they are not complete without a man in their lives or that a husband somehow legitimizes their ministries."{9}

In some churches, women are routinely taught that the best way for them to serve God is to get married, make their husbands happy, and have children. They think this should be the sole focus of women's lives. And to be honest, when God has given a woman a husband and children, especially young children, focusing her primary energies and gifting on her family truly is the most important way she serves God in that season of her life. Children will not be impressed with how many Bible studies their mother teaches each week. And most husbands will be less than enthusiastic for their wives to go off on several mission trips each year when it means the home is falling apart and everybody's life is in chaos.

But women, even women with families, are given spiritual gifts that God intends for us to use to build up the body of Christ, both inside and outside our families. When we exercise those spiritual gifts and abilities, God delights to honor us with a sense of fulfillment. And usually that involves ministry in the church or in the world, as long as it's secondary to our family priorities.

But not all women are called to marriage and motherhood. It is disrespectful to single Christian women to treat them as second-class women because they don't wear a wedding ring. It's heartbreaking and frustrating when a woman would love to be married, but God hasn't brought her to the man of His choice; it just adds unnecessary sorrow for the church to say, "Sorry, honey, without a man you don't have a place here."

Lie #4: Women Should Never Work Outside the Home.

The fourth lie is that women should never work outside the home. Women who take jobs are shamed and judged, because they can't please God if they do anything outside of being a wife and mother.

This is a hurtful lie to many women who don't have a choice about working or not. There are huge numbers of divorced and widowed women in the church who would much rather stay at home with their families, but they're the only breadwinners. And for many two-parent families, they honestly can't survive on the husband's paycheck alone.

This lie comes from a misreading of Paul's exhortation in Titus 2:4 for women to be "workers at home."

Paul wasn't calling them to quit their day jobs to stay home. Women in that culture had no education and usually no opportunities for employment. He was addressing a character issue about being faithful and industrious, not lazy and self-centered. This letter was written to the pastor of a church on Crete, a society known for the laziness and self-indulgence of its people.{10}

Before the 1800's and the Industrial Revolution, both men and women worked at home, and they worked hard. Whether farming, fishing, animal husbandry, or whatever trade they engaged in, they did it from home. The care and nurture of children was woven into the day's work and extended families helped care for each other. There was no such thing, except among the very wealthy, as a woman who didn't work.

This lie completely ignores the Proverbs 31 woman, who not only took excellent care of her family, but also had several home-based businesses that required her to leave her home to engage in these businesses. I personally appreciate this biblical pattern because I had a home-based business and a ministry the entire time my children were growing, both of which took me out of the home sometimes. I was able to grow my gifts as my kids were growing, and now that they're both adults, I am able to use those gifts and abilities more fully with my new freedom to leave home.

On the other hand, an equally distressing expectation common to younger people in today's churches is that women should always work, regardless of whether they have children or not. Our culture has so downgraded the importance of focused parenting that many people consider it wasteful for a woman to be "only" a homemaker. It's sexist to say that a woman's only valid contribution to the world or the church is to be a homemaker, but both extremes are wrong and harmful.

Lie #5: Women Must Obediently Submit to Their Husbands in All Situations.

The last lie says that women must obediently submit to their husbands in all situations. This lie really grieves me deeply, because it is probably responsible for more pain and abuse than any other lie we've looked at in this article.

In Ephesians 5:22, wives are commanded to submit to our husbands. For some people, this has been twisted to mean the husband is the boss and the wife's job is to obey his every whim. That is a relationship of power, not self-sacrificing love, as this marriage passage actually teaches. The wife is called to serve her husband through submission, and the husband is called to serve his wife through sacrificial love.

We have no idea how many women have been physically, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually abused by their husbands wielding the submission verses as a weapon. When they finally tell their pastor about their husband's rage-outs and physical assaults, they are often not believed, and sometimes they are told that if they would learn to submit the violence would stop. Then they are counseled that it would be a sin to separate and hold the husband accountable for what is a crime! Some abused women, who feared for their lives, have actually been told, "Don't worry. Even if you died you would go to be with the Lord. So you win either way. Just keep praying for him. But you are not allowed to leave."{11}

A comprehensive study on domestic violence in the church in the mid 80's revealed that 26 percent of the pastors counseled an abused wife to keep submitting and trust that God would either stop the abuse or give her the strength to endure it. About a fourth of the pastors believed that abuse is the wife's fault because of her lack of submission! And a majority of the pastors said it is better for wives to endure violence against them than to seek a separation that might end in divorce.{12} I respectfully suggest that separation with the goal of reconciliation is often the only way to motivate an abusive husband to get help.{13} Just as we cast a broken limb to enable it to heal, separation is like putting a cast on a broken relationship as the first step to enable change and healing.

All the lies we've looked at in this article are the result of twisting God's word out of a misunderstanding of God's intent for His people. The way to combat the lies is to know the truth--because that's what sets us free.


Lee Grady, 10 Lies the Church Tells Women (Lake Mary, FL: Creation House, 2000). I do not subscribe to everything in this book, particularly the author's belief that there are no restrictions to women in the church. I do not agree that the office of pastor and elder are open to women, though I believe God has given many women, including me, the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher.
Grady, 23.
George Byron Koch, "Shall a Woman Keep Silent? Part 1."
Rev. 22:5, 2 Tim. 2:12.
Grady, 21.
Grady, 89-90.
Grady, 90.
Grady, 140.
Grady, 143.
"Even one of their own prophets has said, 'Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.'" (Titus 1:2)
Grady, 172.
Grady, 174.
I especially recommend Dr. Paul Hegstrom of Life Skills Learning Centers. He is a recovered abusive husband and pastor who wrote an excellent book, Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them: Breaking the Cycle of Physical and Emotional Abuse (Beacon Hill Press, 1999). His Web site is
© 2001 Probe Ministries International


A link to Paul Hegstrom's book is located in our sidebar of the blog that links to Amazon books. It is a book you will hear about quite often, and as of this update we do have more material on him to date!

Churches can help or hinder the bonds of emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and domestic violence overall. Please note take of this list if you seek help for your relationship. These myths that they are speaking about in this article won't do the abuser or the victim any good at all.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Husbands! Love Your Wives - The Christian Online Magazine

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 9:18 AM

Update 7/2/08 - I found this link no longer works, and christianity online no longer is listing this article! I tried to do a search for Julie Gilbert, and this article but was not able to locate it. If someone comes across it please let me know! This author addresses her thoughts on domestic violence within the Christian Marriage.

Husbands! Love Your Wives - The Christian Online Magazine

Husbands! Love Your Wives
By Julie Gilbert

The Christian Online Magazine -

Email the Author

As a woman who is a survivor of domestic violence I have been amazed at the
number of women I have come in contact with who were advised by their
priests, rabbi's or ministers to remain in a relationship where domestic
abuse was prevalent. No additional assistance was given and the matter was
dropped as quickly as possible - and everyone pretended that things were

These women were told that "God hates divorce", that it is the woman's place
to "submit to their husband" because he is her head and covering.

Some of these women stayed and endured years of abuse before finally making
the decision to leave, even if it meant that God may be mad at them or
reject them all together. Their life became more valuable and their survival
more intense than staying with an abuser out of "obedience to God".

As one who holds a real and personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I have
been greatly bothered by the majority of the religious leadership's focus
and adherence to scriptures pertaining to women such as, "wives, submit to
your husbands". Yet, the majority rarely continue reading the Scriptures to
charge the husbands with God's instructions of, "Husbands, love your wives
just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her" (Ephesians 5:22,25

The fact that domestic abuse is difficult enough for the mainstream public
to confront and deal with, it is much more difficult for church leadership to
admit and confront. The fact that domestic and sexual abuse happens to
families within their congregations is something too difficult and
horrendous for them to think about much less discuss or preach on. The truth
is, it is happening right in their own congregations.

As uneducated as the vast majority of people and agencies such as law
enforcement, judicial branches of city and county governments and people in
general, have been on the subject of domestic abuse until recently, there is
even less education within churches and religious institutions.

The Bible, in my opinion, is clear when it tells men to "love their wives
just as Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her", (Ephesians 5:25)
It also states that husbands are to "love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself. No one every hated his own body, but he
feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church." (Ephesians 5:28,
29) Husbands are, again instructed in I Peter 3:7 to "be considerate as you
live with your wife and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as
heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder
your prayers". "Husbands, love your wives and DO NOT BE HARSH WITH THEM"
(Colossians 3:19)

Jesus told religious leaders, who questioned him on divorce, that God
allowed divorce due to the hardening of a man's heart but in the beginning it was
not this way. A verse I hear quoted so often by people is "(God) I hate
divorce, says the Lord" (Malachi 2:16) but they refuse to continue on from
that point. The verse goes on to say, "and I hate a man's covering himself
with violence as well as with his garment" All of this is in the context of
the Lord not hearing prayers, even though one floods the alter with tears
because God is acting "as a witness between you and the wife of your youth
because you have broken faith and dealt treacherously with her " (Malachi

Wow! God acts as a witness for the woman who is abused!! He is not up there,
pleased that men violate women.

Up until 80-100 years ago, it was considered that a man's wife was 'his
property' and he could do with her as he pleased. In Jesus' day, the culture
viewed women much the same if not worse.

Reading about Jesus Christ in the Gospels, caused me to see Jesus doing much
to elevate women and value and empower them. He seemed to rattle the 'status
quo' religious traditions that men had instituted. He confronted men with
stones ready to kill a woman they had dragged before Jesus charging her with
being caught in the very act of adultery. Jesus told them, "He is who is
without sin, cast the first stone" and one by one, from the oldest to the
youngest, they dropped their stones and went away. Jesus looked up and asked
the woman where her accusers had gone, to which she replied they had gone
and did not accuse her. So Jesus told her to do the same thing to 'go and
sin no more'. He forgave her and charged her to change her behavior. I am
sure he wondered why the religious leaders did not bring the man caught in
adultery to be stoned.

Jesus did not abuse people. He loved people and he demonstrated the way to
live, to walk, to treat people and to find eternal life through a personal
relationship with Him. Jesus had quite a following of women who traveled
with him while he ministered to the broken hearted and bound up their
wounds. He valued and esteemed women contrary to the social customs of that

Today is no different. Religious leaders must be educated on domestic
violence as well as teach those in their congregations about domestic
violence. Nowhere do I find Jesus encouraging a man to beat his wife, or
verbally assault her and put her down or sexually assault her or their
children. Yet it remains a subject untouched, untaught and keeps many women
in bondage to abusers and living in a constant state of fear.

"God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of POWER, and of LOVE and of a
SOUND MIND" (II Timothy 1:7) The Bible also tells us to "do nothing out of
selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better
than yourself" (Philippians 2:3)

Men who use the Word of God to justify their abusive behavior and authority
over women and children fail to reflect the heart, action and behaviors of
Jesus Christ as demonstrated in the Gospels. They violate their positions of
leadership within the family unit and fail to provide the safety and
security in which to nurture healthy and godly beliefs, values and
interpersonal relationships that carry over to the world around them.

The Bible defines love as, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy,
it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not
delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It ALWAYS PROTECTS, always
trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. Love never fails (I Corinthians

For a man to abuse his wife and children with his hands, his words, his
strength and actions is to act as an unbeliever and to disobey the core
teachings of Jesus Christ and God Almighty. Religious leaders must begin to
hold men who abuse accountable and provide for the woman and her children a
place of refuge and safety from the abuse in order to heal. The issue is not
so much divorce unless adherence to the Word of God and change on the part
of the abuser does not happen. If a man refuses to submit himself to the
Word and change his behavior producing fruit in keeping with this change
over a consistent period of time, no woman should be forced, coerced or
scripturally mandated to return to such a person or environment.

It is time for the leadership of the Church, as defined by the Lord in His
Word, to be a place of refuge and safety for violated and abused women and
children. To hold men accountable for their actions and educate them on
exactly what the Word of God defines love to be.


Copyright 2000 by Julie Bill


This article was found on Christianity online, but has since been removed. I have not been able to find information on the author. If you have something - let me know! It has a home here for now at Emotional Abuse and Your Faith!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Emotional Abuse seemed better than being Lonely

2 comments Posted by Hannah at 8:46 AM

I have many people mention that dealing with emotional abuse is better than being lonely. I have found you are lonely when dealing with emotional abusive people. They aren't there for you, but more for themselves. They are broken souls that Jesus would like to heal, but the victim of these people aren't always the best person for the job.

Enjoy the article!


Love – the answer to loneliness. That's what I was looking for. All I wanted was someone to love me, that I could love in return.

Born into a happy family, my early life was relatively simple and pain-free. My siblings and I did not lack for anything we needed, though we were never wealthy. As a teenager, I realized how good I had it compared to my friends, many of whom didn't come from loving home situations.

Then I entered university, and I discovered loneliness. I was looking for someone who would love me more than they loved anyone else; I figured the thing I needed was a husband.

Toward the end of my undergraduate years, I began dating a man who was the brother of one of my best friends during my teen years. We became reacquainted and married shortly thereafter. It was not a healthy relationship before or after the wedding. He was a violent, angry man who came from an abusive home. I ignored the warning bells going off in my head during our courtship and married him largely because I was afraid of him--and because I was so very lonely.

I thought I could change him; that things would be different once we were married. The marriage lasted four and a half years. The decision to divorce my husband was a very difficult one to make.

The emotional and psychological abuse I suffered from my husband left me very empty. There was almost nothing of me left. What was the point of living if I had to live with a man that was killing me from the inside out? Though lacking the courage, I thought often about taking my own life. I considered divorce the lesser evil to letting myself be subjected further to my husband's abuse.

So life got better after that, right? In many ways, yes, it did.

You see, as a child I had made a decision that had an impact on every situation in my life. My family and my home were happy and full of love because Jesus was there. As a child, I had asked Him to come into my life and change me. All I did was ask Him.

After my divorce, I grew closer to God in ways that I could not have had I not gone through that experience. My self-esteem grew again, and my creativity returned. Yet I still kept searching for someone to love me, someone who I could love in return.

I made many, many new friends (men and women) during and after this very rough time of my life, all of them wonderful Christian people. But still, very deep inside of me, I was lonely. I couldn't figure out why He wasn't answering my prayers for me (at least, that's how it seemed to me), but would abundantly answer my prayers for others. Finally, after meeting yet another great guy and being disappointed again, I came to a startling realization.

I have always known that Jesus loves me more than anyone else ever could. But I think it was more of an intellectual knowing than a whole mind/body/spirit knowing. During a Bible study one night, I listened to the story of a girl in our group. Despite being diagnosed with a brain tumour, she was so excited and so radiant with love for God. I was a bit jealous because I knew I didn't love Him like that . . . but I wanted to.

In the Bible, in Psalm 42:1, it says, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God." I didn't long for God. I thought, "Why would I need to since I already have Him in my life?"

I thought I needed a human partner. But then, in a very quiet, patient voice, He said to me, "Your desire is not for me first of all. Delight yourself in me and I will give you the desires of your heart." I realized that the love I was seeking had been there all along.

Now I know with my whole being that God loves me more than anyone else ever could-- that He will never take His love away from me or disappoint me, that He will never die on me or go away. Jesus already died for me so that we could be reunited. He rose from the dead, He's alive and His love for me is greater than anything I can imagine! I didn't know I could love anyone so much!

Take a look at your life. How would you describe it? Contented? Rushed? Exciting? Stressful? Moving forward? Holding back? For many of us it’s all of the above at times. There are things we dream of doing one day, there are things we wish we could forget. In the Bible, it says that Jesus came to make all things new. What would your life look like if you could start over with a clean slate?

Living with hope

If you are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here's a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.

Is this the life for you?

If you invited Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you'll experience life to the fullest.


The article above website is not longer available. 

Jesus can help you as you deal with the domestic violence within your home. Domestic abuse is not bigger than he! Emotional Abuse may have seemed better than being lonely, but you don't have to be lonely...and can be without emotional abuse as well!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Collection of Stories and Poetry - Domestic Violence

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 8:23 AM

Update 7/2/08 - I found that is link is no longer working, and I wanted to update because the site has alot of helpful information that could help others. I lift my eyes ministries is where I got the material, and I have searched the site to see if I could find these stories. I'm not sure if I didn't look good enough, or if they have been removed. It was stories I found that I felt at the time would help parties that are dealing with 'Emotional Abuse' within Christian Marriages.

Come to Me:

Heavy Burdens

"Why was my burden so heavy?" I slammed the office door and leaned against it. "Is there no rest from this life?" I wondered. I stumbled to my desk and dropped into my chair, pressing my face into my arms to shut out the frustrations of my existence.

"Oh God," I cried, "let me sleep. Let me sleep forever and never wake up!" With a deep sob I tried to will myself into oblivion, then welcomed the blackness that came over me.

Light surrounded me as I regained consciousness. I focused on its source -- the figure of a man standing before a cross. "My child," He asked, "why did you want to come to me before I am ready to call you?"

"Lord, I'm sorry. It's just that... I can't go on. You see how hard it is for me. Look at this awful burden on my back. I simply can't carry it anymore."

"But haven't I told you to cast all of your burdens upon me, because I care for you? My yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

"I knew you would say that. But why does mine have to be so heavy?"

"My child, everyone in the world has a burden. Perhaps you would like to try a different one?"

"I can do that?"

He pointed to several burdens lying at His feet. "You may try any of these."

All of them seemed to be of equal size. But each was labeled with a name.

"There's Joan's," I said. "Let me try that one." Joan was married to a wealthy businessman. She lived in a sprawling estate and dressed her three daughters in the prettiest designer clothes. Sometimes she drove me to church in her Cadillac when my car was broken. "How difficult could her burden be?" I thought.

The Lord removed my burden and placed Joan's on my shoulders. My knees sank beneath its weight. "Take it off!" I said. "What makes it so heavy?"

"Look inside."

I untied the straps and opened the top. Inside was a figure of her Mother-in-law, and when I lifted it out, it began to speak. "Joan, you'll never be good enough for my son," it began. "He never should have married you. You're a terrible mother to my grandchildren..."

I quickly placed the figure back in the pack and withdrew another. It was Donna, Joan's youngest daughter. Her head was bandaged from the surgery that had failed to resolve her epilepsy. A third figure was Joan's brother. Addicted to drugs, he had been convicted of killing a police officer.

"I see why her burden is so heavy, Lord. But she's always smiling and helping others. I didn't realize...."

"Would you like to try another?" He asked quietly.

I tested several. Paula's felt heavy -- she was raising four small boys without a father. Debra's did too -- A childhood of sexual abuse and a marriage of emotional abuse. When I Came to Ruth's burden, I didn't even try. I knew that inside I would find old age, arthritis, a demanding full-time job, and a beloved husband in a nursing home.

"They're all too heavy, Lord," I said. "Give me back my own." As I lifted the familiar load once again, it seemed much lighter than the others did.

"Let's look inside" He said. I turned away, holding it close. "That's not a good idea," I said.


"There's a lot of junk in there."

"Let Me see." His gentle voice compelled me. I opened my burden. He pulled out a brick. "Tell me about this one."

"Lord, You know. It's money. I know we don't suffer like people in some countries or even the homeless here in America. But we have no insurance, and when the kids get sick, we can't always take them to the doctor. They've never been to a dentist, and I'm tired of dressing them in hand-me-downs."

"My child, I will supply all of your needs...and your children's. I've given them healthy bodies. I will teach them that expensive clothing doesn't make a person valuable in my sight." Then He lifted out the figure of a small boy. "And this?" He asked.

"Andrew..." I hung my head, ashamed to call my son a burden. "But, Lord, he's hyperactive. He's not quiet like the other two. He makes me so tired. He's always getting hurt, and someone is bound to think that I abuse him. I yell at him all the time. Someday, I may really hurt him...."

"My child," He said, "If you trust Me, I will renew your strength. If you allow Me to fill you with My Spirit, I will give you patience."

Then He took some pebbles from my burden. "Yes, Lord," I said with a sigh. "Those are small, but they're important. I hate my hair. It's thin, and I can't make it look nice. I can't afford to go to the beauty shop. I'm overweight and can't stay on a diet. I hate all my clothes. I hate the way I look!"

"My child, people look at your outward appearance, but I look at your heart. By my Spirit you can gain self-control to lose weight. But your beauty should not come from outward appearance. Instead, it should come from your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in my sight."

My burden now seemed lighter than before. "I guess I can handle it now," I said.

"There is more," He said. "Hand me that last brick."

"Oh, You don't have to take that. I can handle it."

"My child, give it to me." Again His voice compelled me. He reached out His hand, and for the first time I saw the ugly wound.

"But, Lord, this brick is so awful, so nasty, so...Lord! What happened to your hands? They're so scarred." No longer focused on my burden, I looked for the first time into His face. In His brow were ragged scars -- as though someone had pressed thorns into His flesh. "Lord," I whispered, "What happened to you?"

His loving eyes reached into my soul. "My child, you know. Hand me the brick. It belongs to me. I bought it."


"With My blood."

"But why, Lord?"

"Because I have loved you with an everlasting love. Give the last brick to me."

I placed the filthy brick into His wounded palm. It contained the entire dirt and evil of my life -- my pride, my selfishness, and the depression that constantly tormented me. He turned to the cross and hurled my brick into the pool of blood at its base. It hardly made a ripple.

"Now, my child, you need to go back. I will be with you always. When you are troubled, call to me. I will help you and show you things you cannot imagine now."

"Yes, Lord, I will call on you." I reached to pick up my burden.

"You may leave that here if you wish. You see all of these burdens? They are the ones that others have left at my feet. Joan's, Paula's, Debra's, Ruth's... When you leave your burden here, I carry it with you. Remember, my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

As I placed my burden with Him, the light began to fade. Yet I heard Him whisper, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."

A peace flooded my soul.


Two Babes in the Manger

In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian
Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical
principles) in the public schools. They were invited to teach at
prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments and a large

About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in
the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage. They
relate the following story in their own words.

It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear,
for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them
about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the
inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and
placed in a manger.

Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in
amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools,
trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the
children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger.

Each child was given a small paper square,cut from yellow napkins I
had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city.

Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully
laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut
from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she
left Russia, were used for the baby's blanket. A doll-like baby was
cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States.

The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them
to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one
table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about 6 years old and
had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy's manger, I
was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly,
I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies
in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this
completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very

For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he
related the happenings accurately -- until he came to the part where
Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger. Then Misha started to ad-lib.
He made up his own ending to the story as he said, "And when Maria
laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had
a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I
don't have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with
him. But I told him I couldn't, because I didn't have a gift to give
him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much,
so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I
thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift.

So I asked Jesus, 'If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough
gift?' And Jesus told me, 'If you keep me warm, that will be the
best gift anybody ever gave me.' So I got into the manger, and then
Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him --- for

As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears
that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face,
his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed
and sobbed.

The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse
him, someone who would stay with him -- FOR ALWAYS.

I've learned that it's not what you have in your life, but who you
have in your life that counts.
Refiner's Fire

Some time ago, a few ladies met to study the scriptures.

While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable
expression in the third verse: "And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier
of silver" (Malachi 3:3).

One lady decided to visit a silversmith, and report to the others on
what he said about the subject. She went accordingly, and without telling him
the reason for her visit, begged the silversmith to tell her about the process
of refining silver. After he had fully described it to her, she asked, "Sir,
do you sit while the work of refining is going on?" "Oh, yes ma'am," replied
the silversmith; "I must sit and watch the furnace constantly; for, if the time
necessary for refining is exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be

The lady at once saw the beauty and comfort of the expression, "He
shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." God sees it necessary to put
His children into the furnace; but His eye is steadily intent on the work of
purifying. His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us.
Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what
we can endure.

Before she left, the lady asked one final question, "How do you know
when the process is complete?"

"That's quite simple," replied the silversmith. When I can see my own
image in the silver, the refining process is finished."

Author Unknown


I have been going into my older entries to see if I needed to update them. Please see the link at the top of the page for the source! These speak of child abuse, emotional abuse and verbal abuse within a marriage. It speaks of heavy burdens, and not taking for granted things that Jesus has already given us. I'm sorry the first link is dead, but I'm glad the stories are still here for all to enjoy! Blessings.....Hannah!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Verbal Abuse with Christian Marriages

2 comments Posted by Hannah at 9:08 PM

'Emotional Abuse' and 'Verbal Abuse' with marriage can be very damaging. This article is supplied by Probe Ministries. It mentions the Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans, and you can find that book onsale at Amazon. I have a link to it in my book section on the side of the blog! Its not a book regarding faith, but helps educate you on the dynamics of verbal abuse which is a form of domestic violence!


Verbal Abuse: "Introduction
Almost everyone has heard of, or knows of, someone who has been verbally abused. Perhaps you are involved in a verbally abusive relationship. It is also possible that no one even knows your circumstances. Verbal abuse is a kind of battering which doesn't leave evidence comparable to the bruises of physical battering. You (or your friend) may be suffering in silence and isolation.

In this article, I want to tackle this very important issue in an effort to understand this phenomenon and provide answers. Like any area of human action, it begins in the mind and heart. Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as he thinks within himself, so he is." What a person thinks in his mind and heart will be reflected in his words and actions. Verbal abuse and physical abuse result from a world view that is clearly not biblical.

Verbal abuse is often more difficult to see since there are rarely any visible scars unless physical abuse has taken place. But it is often less visible simply because the abuse may always take place in private. The victim of verbal abuse lives in a gradually more confusing realm. In public, the victim is with one person. While in private, the abuser may become a completely different person.

Frequently, the perpetrator of verbal abuse is male and the victim is female, but not always. There are many examples of women who are quite verbally abusive. But for the sake of simplicity of pronouns in this program, I will identify the abuser as male and the victim as female.

One of the first books to describe verbal abuse in adults was Patricia Evan's book The Verbally Abusive Relationship.{1} She interviewed forty verbally abused women who ranged in age from 21 to 66. Most of the women had left a verbally abusive relationship. We will use some of the characteristics and categories of verbal abuse these women describe in this book.

Another important book in understanding verbal abuse is one that describes the phenomenon of "crazymaking." George Bach and Ronald Deutsch wrote Stop! You're Driving Me Crazy.{2} They describe what the crazymaking experience feels like. This includes "feeling temporarily thrown off balance," "feeling lost and not knowing where to turn," and "being caught off guard."

A victim is often the target of angry outbursts, sarcasm, or cool indifference. The abuser's reaction to these actions is frequently cloaked in a "What's wrong with you?" attitude. She is accused of "making a mountain out of a molehill." Over time she loses her balance and equilibrium and begins to wonder if she is the one who is crazy.

The key to healing is to recognize verbal abuse for what it is and to begin to take deliberate steps to stop it and bring healing. Since the abuser is usually in denial, the responsibility for recognizing verbal abuse often rests with the partner.

Characteristics of Verbal Abuse
Now I would like to focus on some of the characteristics of verbal abuse as outlined in The Verbally Abusive Relationship.{3}

1. Verbal abuse is hurtful and usually attacks the nature and abilities of the partner. Over time, the partner may begin to believe that there is something wrong with her or her abilities. She may come to feel that she is the problem, rather than her partner.

2. Verbal abuse may be overt (through angry outbursts and name- calling) or covert (involving very subtle comments, even something that approaches brainwashing). Overt verbal abuse is usually blaming and accusatory, and consequently confusing to the partner. Covert verbal abuse, which is hidden aggression, is even more confusing to the partner. Its aim is to control her without her knowing.

3. Verbal abuse is manipulative and controlling. Even disparaging comments may be voiced in an extremely sincere and concerned way. But the goal is to control and manipulate.

4. Verbal abuse is insidious. The partner's self-esteem gradually diminishes, usually without her realizing it. She may consciously or unconsciously try to change her behavior so as not to upset the abuser.

5. Verbal abuse is unpredictable. In fact, unpredictability is one of the most significant characteristics of verbal abuse. The partner is stunned, shocked, and thrown off balance by her mate's sarcasm, angry jab, put-down, or hurtful comment.

6. Verbal abuse is not a side issue. It is the issue in the relationship. When a couple is having an argument about a real issue, the issue can be resolved. In a verbally abusive relationship, there is no specific conflict. The issue is the abuse, and this issue is not resolved. There is no closure.

7. Verbal abuse expresses a double message. There is incongruence between the way the abuser speaks and his real feelings. For example, he may sound very sincere and honest while he is telling his partner what is wrong with her.

8. Verbal abuse usually escalates, increasing in intensity, frequency, and variety. The verbal abuse may begin with put-downs disguised as jokes. Later other forms might surface. Sometimes the verbal abuse may escalate into physical abuse, starting with "accidental" shoves, pushes, and bumps.

These are a few characteristics of verbal abuse. Next we will look at some of the categories of verbal abuse.{4}

Categories of Verbal Abuse
The first category of verbal abuse is withholding. A marriage requires intimacy, and intimacy requires empathy. If one partner withholds information and feelings, then the marriage bond weakens. The abuser who refuses to listen to his partner denies her experience and leaves her isolated.

The second is countering. This is the dominant response of the verbal abuser who sees his partner as an adversary. He is constantly countering and correcting everything she says and does. Internally he may even be thinking, "How dare she have a different view!"

Countering is very destructive to a relationship because it prevents the partner from knowing what her mate thinks about anything. Sometimes the verbal abuser will cut off discussion in mid-sentence before she can finish her thought. In many ways, he cannot even allow her to have her own thoughts.

A third category of verbal abuse is discounting. This is like taking a one hundred-dollar item and reducing its price to one cent. Discounting denies the reality and experience of the partner and is extremely destructive. It can be a most insidious form of verbal abuse because it denies and distorts the partner's actual perception of the abuse.

Sometimes verbal abuse is disguised as jokes. Although his comments may masquerade as humor, they cut the partner to the quick. The verbal jabs may be delivered crassly or with great skill, but they all have the same effect of diminishing the partner and throwing her off balance.

A fifth form of verbal abuse is blocking and diverting. The verbal abuser refuses to communicate, establishes what can be discussed, or withholds information. He can prevent any possibility of resolving conflicts by blocking and diverting.

Accusing and blaming is another form. A verbal abuser will accuse his partner of some wrongdoing or some breach of the basic agreement of the relationship. This has the effect of diverting the conversation and putting the other partner on the defensive.

Another form of verbal abuse is judging and criticizing. The verbal abuser may judge his partner and then express his judgment in a critical way. If she objects, he may tell her that he is just pointing something out to be helpful, but in reality he is expressing his lack of acceptance of her.

These are just a few of the categories of verbal abuse. Next we will look at a number of other forms of verbal abuse.

Other Forms of Verbal Abuse
Trivializing can also be a form of verbal abuse. It is an attempt to take something that is said or done and make it insignificant. When this is done in a frank and sincere manner, it can be difficult to detect. Often the partner becomes confused and believes she hasn't effectively explained to her mate how important certain things are to her.

Undermining is also verbal abuse. The abuser not only withholds emotional support, but also erodes confidence and determination. The abuser often will squelch an idea or suggestion just by a single comment.

Threatening is a classic form of verbal abuse. He manipulates his partner by bringing up her biggest fears. This may include threatening to leave or threatening to get a divorce. In some cases, the threat may be to escalate the abuse.

Name-calling can also be verbal abuse. Continually calling someone "stupid" because she isn't as intelligent as you or calling her a "klutz" because she is not as coordinated can have a devastating effect on the partner's self esteem.

Verbal abuse may also involve forgetting. This may involve both overt and covert manipulation. Everyone forgets things from time to time, but the verbal abuser consistently does so. After the partner collects herself, subsequent to being yelled at, she may confront her mate only to find that he has "forgotten" about the incident. Some abusers consistently forget about the promises they have made which are most important to their partners.

Ordering is another classic form of verbal abuse. It denies the equality and autonomy of the partner. When an abuser gives orders instead of asking, he treats her like a slave or subordinate.

Denial is the last category of verbal abuse. Although all forms of verbal abuse have serious consequences, denial can be very insidious because it denies the reality of the partner. In fact, a verbal abuser could read over this list of categories and insist that he is not abusive.

That is why it is so important for the partner to recognize these characteristics and categories since the abuser is usually in denial. Thus, the responsibility for recognizing verbal abuse and doing something about it often rests with the partner.

We have described various characteristics of verbal abuse and have even discussed the various categories of verbal abuse. Finally, I would like to provide a biblical perspective.

A Biblical Perspective of Verbal Abuse
The Bible clearly warns us about the dangers of an angry man. Proverbs 22:24 says, "Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man." And Proverbs 29:22 says, "An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression."

It is not God's will for you (or your friend) to be in a verbally abusive relationship. Those angry and critical words will destroy your confidence and self-esteem. Being submissive in a marriage relationship (Ephesians 5:22) does not mean allowing yourself to be verbally beaten by your partner. 1 Peter 3:1 does teach that wives, by being submissive to their husbands, may win them to Christ by their behavior. But it does not teach that they must allow themselves to be verbally or physically abused.

Here are some key biblical principles. First, know that God loves you. The Bible teaches, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18)

Second, deal with your feelings of guilt. You may be feeling that the problems in your marriage are your fault. "If only I would do better, he wouldn't be so angry with me." The Bible teaches in Psalm 51:6 that "Surely You desire truth in the inner parts; You teach me wisdom in the inmost place." Even though you may have feelings of guilt, you may not be the guilty party. I would recommend you read my article on the subject of false guilt.{5}

A related issue is shame. You may feel that something is wrong with you. You may feel that you are a bad person. Psalms 139:14 says, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

Finally, you should realize that you can be free from being a victim and agree with God that you can be free. 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

A key element in this area of verbal abuse will no doubt be confrontation of the abuser. It's important for you to realize that confrontation is a biblical principle. Jesus taught about this in Matthew 18:15-20. I would recommend that you seek help from a pastor or counselor. But I would also recommend that you gather godly men and women together who can lovingly confront the person who is verbally abusing you. Their goal should be to break through his denial and lovingly restore him with a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1).

Verbal abuse is a difficult emotional problem, but there is hope if the abuser is willing to confront his sin and get help.


Patricia Evan, The Verbally Abusive Relationship. Holbrook, MA: Adams Media Corporation, 1996.
George Bach and Ronald Deutsch, Stop! You're Driving Me Crazy. New York: Putnam's Sons, 1980.
Evans, 81-84.
Ibid., 85-104.
© 2001 Probe Ministries International

About the Author
Kerby Anderson is the president of Probe Ministries International. He received his B.S. from Oregon State University, M.F.S. from Yale University, and M.A. from Georgetown University. He is the author of several books, including Genetic Engineering, Origin Science, Living Ethically in the 90s, Signs of Warning, Signs of Hope, and Moral Dilemmas. He also served as general editor for Marriage, Family and Sexuality.
He is a nationally syndicated columnist whose editorials have appeared in the Dallas Morning News, the Miami Herald, the San Jose Mercury, and the Houston Post.

He is the host of "Probe," and frequently serves as guest host on "Point of View" (USA Radio Network). He can be reached via e-mail at


What is Probe?
Probe Ministries is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to reclaim the primacy of Christian thought and values in Western culture through media, education, and literature. In seeking to accomplish this mission, Probe provides perspective on the integration of the academic disciplines and historic Christianity.

In addition, Probe acts as a clearing house, communicating the results of its research to the church and society at large.

Further information about Probe's materials and ministry may be obtained by writing to:

Probe Ministries
1900 Firman Drive, Suite 100
Richardson, TX 75081
(972) 480-0240 FAX (972) 644-9664

Copyright (C) 1996-2005 Probe Ministries


Remember to check the sidebar of this blog to a link to the 'Verbally Aubsive Relationship' by Patricia Evans. It was one of the first books that I read on the subject of Emotional Abuse and Verbal Abuse. Its popularity has not lessoned with time, and you see it recommended over and over again!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Trauma Bonding - The pull to the Perpetrator

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 9:50 PM

I found this article and it may not totally relate to the 'Emotional Abuse', but it does speak well of the trauma bond people in Emotional Abusive Relationships feel.

Traumatic bonding does happen within relationship where domestic violence is present. Its just another factor that people need to see, and realize that is happening so they can begin to educate themselves on working with emotional abuse within a marriage. Any form of domestic abuse within the Christian Home for that matter!


Trauma Bonding : The Pull to the Perpetrator
By Svali
PLEASE NOTE: This article discusses perpetration, trauma, and cult programming. If you are a survivor, do not read if these subjects are triggering unless with your therapist or a safe person.

I will be writing on an extremely difficult subject, that of trauma bonding, also known as bonding to the perpetrator. This is difficult to do for several reasons. As a child, I was in a state of “captivity to my abuser” as delineated in trauma journals. I was raised in an isolative cult, and bonded heavily to my primary programmers, both my parents, and the trainers that worked with me. Then, as an adult, I continued the vicious cycle when I became a trainer, then a head trainer, and bonded others to me.

Trauma bonding is the issue that is left out of the equation when people ask “Why do cult members recontact their perps? Why do they keep going back for more abuse?” Without understanding chronic trauma, and the effects of trauma bonding, it is impossible to understand the dynamic involved. I will be sharing in this article both from personal memory of methods used, as well as sourcing to the literature on the subject. My greatest hope is that by understanding this often misunderstood subject, that others may be helped to pull out of its insidious pull.

If a person is unable to escape chronic, traumatic abuse, they will eventually begin to bond with their perpetrator(s). This has been well documented in the literature. It will occur because of the dehumanization of the victim, who may reach a state of feeling that they are “robotized” or nonfeeling, combined with a disruption in the capacity for intimacy caused by the trauma.
“ Trauma impels people both to withdraw from close relationships and to seeks them desperately. The profound disruption in basic trust, the common feelings of shame, guilt, and inferiority, and the need to avoid reminders of the trauma that might be found in social life, all foster withdrawal from close relationships. But the terror of the traumatic event intensifies the need for protective attachments. The traumatized person therefore frequently alternates between isolation and anxious clinging to others... “(1)

Many victims of severe and unrelenting trauma, whether domestic violence, incest, or ritual abuse, will find that they feel anxious when alone, and fear abandonment and isolation. The over-dependent characteristics are NOT a personality fault, but a result of the chronic abuse. This is often rooted in the fact that as a child, the trauma survivor was not only a CAPTIVE to their abuse, but they depended upon their perpetrator for food, shelter, or other necessities. In addition, with ritual abuse, a small child will often be abandoned for periods of time, to increase their dependency upon the very people who are abusing them. Any two or three year old will be almost insanely grateful to be rescued from a small box that they have been confined within for hours, or from the dark confines of a musty basement where they have been left for a day or two. Even the most abusive perpetrator will then become the child’s rescuer, which is the foundation of trauma bonding. In trauma bonding, the person’s abuser will be perceived as the one who delivers and rescues from the abuse, as well as the tormentor. This creates a psychological ambivalence that creates dissociation in a young child. The very helplessness and terror that are instilled by the abuse, cause the child (or later, the adult) to reach out to the only available hand for relief: the perpetrator. And the perpetrator WILL rescue and stop the abuse, or take the child out of the confines of their pain, but for a price: their unrelenting loyalty and obedience. This is the traumatic underpinning of all cult programming that I have seen: a combination of abuse and kindness; terror and rescue; degradation and praise.

This will be reinforced by the perceived power of the perpetrator in the cult situation: In situations of captivity, the perpetrator becomes the most powerful person in the life of the victim, and the psychology of the victim is shaped by the actions and beliefs of the perpetrator. (1) This is survival at its most basic for the child raised in a cult setting, since failure to do this will cause further punishment and pain. The child will have seen people tortured or killed for disobedience, and so, literally, the perpetrator WILL have the perceived power of life and death over the child. If the child complies, and is “obedient” to the demands of their perpetrator and the group, they will be “rewarded”with freedom from punishment and continued life. The intense coercion to not only comply with, but to identify idealistically, with the group in this context is overwhelming. Almost all very young children in an abusive cult setting will begin to internalize their perpetrators in some form in order to cope with this reality. And this reaction will be rewarded heavily, if not done intentionally. Many cult handlers or trainers will pretend to “pass on their spirit” into the child, and will tell the child that they now “live within them” and “are always watching them.” Frequently, the young child will then create an internal alter with the same name as the outside abuser or trainer.
I remember my second trainer, Dr. Brogan, saying that he was giving himself “immortality” by going to “live inside of me” when I created (with his help) an internal Dr.Brogan. This alternate personality became a head internal trainer inside, the same role that Dr. Brogan had on the outside, and part of healing has meant learning that this internal Brogan is actually part of ME and learning that he no longer had to do his old “job” of reprogramming me internally. It has also meant breaking free of the hold that the GOOD memories of him, the kindnesses, the expressions of love and caring, held over me as well, since they bonded me to him, and to the group that he belonged to.

In the cult, it is not uncommon to have a “death ritual” where the child is brought to a near death experience. Afterwards, the “rescuers” are the trainers who talk soothingly to the child, massage him or her with oils, and tell the child that they “owe their life” to them. Not only that, but the warning is given: if the child ever tries to break free, they will return to the state of dying. Other set ups will include burying a child alive in a box or coffin; again, the perpetrators will rescue the horrified child who is almost out of their mind with terror (after several long hours) under one condition: undying loyalty to the group and the rescuers. Traumatized beyond belief, the child readily complies. This time of avowal and loyalty will be buried in a deep, subconscious layer of the mind, and the older adult or survivor may not be aware that part of the draw to the group is the belief that they “owe their life to them.” The subconscious fear needs to be dealt with: that leaving the group does NOT have to mean death, as they were taught in early childhood traumatizations.

After any training session, all Illuminati trainers know that the most important time is the “kindness bonding” after the trauma is over. The best trainers will have kind personas that will come out, talk lovingly to the “subject” and tell them how well they did, how needed the subject is to the group, how “special” and unique they are. Rewards such as a special food, drugs, or a sexual partner will be given as well. This “kindness” after the trauma is the hook that will often draw programmed personalities back to the cult, since some personalities may know only of the rewards and kindness, and will block the abuse. Heavily abused alters have less of an investment in returning to the cult; but heavily rewarded and praised alters will, and must be helped in therapy to see the whole picture.

Siblings and other children will often form a trauma bond with each other, much as soldiers in a war setting, or prisoners, will do. “Twinning” with a non-biological twin will carry this to an extreme. In different situations, the children are allowed to “rescue” each other, increasing their loyalty and bond to each other. They will go through the same programming and torture together, and will feel the bond of “surviving it” together. A “battlefield” mentality may literally develop, as friendships deepen in youth and vows to be willing to die for one another are given and taken. But all too often, these friends and twins and siblings are also forced to traumatize and wound each other, reinforcing another basic cult message: the one who loves you will hurt you.

The survivor who escapes the cult will feel a powerful pull back because of a lifetime of these types of distorted messages. The safe therapist, or non-DID friend, is not hurting them, and this may create a huge dissonance in a person who up until this point had always been taught that “love” meant “pain”. They may doubt the reality of the caring messages of those around them, or need to test their support system over and over. And highly wounded alters, who were bonded to believe that they owe their very life to the ones who have abused them most, may still try to recontact former perpetrators, not believing that life can be different yet.
Undoing a lifetime of this type of teaching and training takes time, patience, perseverance, and prayer. It will stretch the most caring support person as they wonder why the survivor recontacts their abuser. The survivor will feel that they have betrayed themselves, if they find they have recontacted perpetrators, unaware of the powerful pull that trauma bonding may still have on certain alters inside. But with caring support and continued therapy, the survivor will begin to test old beliefs. Personalities formerly loyal to the father, mother, or other trainers may decide to cut off contact, and will go increasingly long periods without being reaccessed. They may come out in therapy, angry and disgruntled, or asking when the therapist is going to “put down their fa├žade” and begin hurting them (this is another form of testing). The person’s whole world view may go through a 180 degree inside as they realize that love does NOT have to mean abuse, and the message reaches the deepest layers inside. Deep grieving over the abuse of trust, over the betrayals, over the intentionality of the trauma bonding and the set-ups will occur, as the person moves towards healing and away from the pull of their former abusers. The process takes time, often years, to occur, but the result, which is a life free from cult abuse, is well worth it.

1. Trauma : site at excerpt from excellent book Trauma and Recovery (1997) by Judith Lewis Herman, MD
2. Attachment and Bonding Center of Oklahoma: site at Good discussion of attachment disorder and causes in infants
3. The Meadows press release: “The Case for Traumatic Bonding: The Betrayal Bond “by Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D., C.A.S. Review of book that has an excellent discussion of trauma bonding and emotional betrayal; article has checklist of symptoms of trauma bonding.
© 2000 svaliUsed with permission


Traumatic bonding needs to be understood as well at times when deal within domestic violence within christian marriages. Seek the references above for further information.

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