Monday, September 19, 2005

What is a godly response to domestic abuse for an abused wife?

Posted by Hannah at 9:05 AM

Domestic abuse is a one-sided relationship where a spouse regularly seeks to control and punish his or her partner. The most common sort of spousal abuse is that of the husband toward the wife. The abuse can take many forms: verbal, physical, psychological, sexual, and financial. These are the primary methods a man uses to dominate his spouse.
Regardless of the form of abuse, there are no easy answers for a wife whose husband regularly abuses her. Financial concerns, intimidating threats, personal doubts, and a husband’s ability to hide the abuse or make her feel responsibile (when she most certainly is not) are just some of the factors that leave hurting and scared wives feeling cornered with few, if any, options.
As trapped as a wife may feel, she is always free to choose the option of love. Sadly, however, too many have been taught that showing love means that a wife should passively tolerate her husband’s abuse. Love is misunderstood as getting along and not upsetting one’s husband. But a weak, fearful, compliant response usually enables her husband in his abusive patterns. Meek compliance on her part is not best for either of them. Nor does it serve the larger good of a godly marriage. Therefore, it’s not loving.
The Bible says that showing genuine love is to "Hate what is evil; cling to what is good" ( Romans 12:9 NIV). In other words, a loving reaction is both compassionate and strong. Although her husband may not see it this way, an abused wife can show that she cares for her husband by sending the strong and consistent message that she will give him consequences for his abusive words and behavior.
A consequence is something that a wife decides to do. It’s not something that she tries to make her husband do. Consequences vary depending on the seriousness of the situation. For instance, a verbally abusive episode (although still serious) often calls for her to simply end the conversation after informing her husband that she won’t continue to talk with him as long as he remains controlling or disrespectful. Situations involving physical abuse may require calling the police and pressing charges. In other cases where there is a longstanding and oppressive pattern of emotional/verbal abuse, legal separation and even divorce are legitimate options to consider, but only as a last resort.
An abused wife shouldn’t expect the situation to turn around quickly. Many abusive husbands apologize and act remorseful, but a wife shouldn’t be misled. An abusive husband’s quick remorse is often just another ploy to regain control. Other men don’t apologize at all and resist admitting the harm they are causing. They continue to minimize their sin and put the blame on others. It frequently requires an abusive husband to undergo an extended time of his own personal suffering before he will come to his senses and begin the long and difficult process of understanding and owning the damage he’s caused. Therefore, a wife committed to loving her husband should be prepared to stand her ground for a long period of time while her husband learns necessary lessons from the consequences he is suffering for his sinful behavior.
An abused wife shouldn’t try to give consequences without help. Confronting her husband without a plan or physical protection can be a grave mistake. It will likely cause her husband to feel threatened. He is used to being in control and giving him negative consequences takes that control away. Therefore, a wife should prepare for the possibility that her husband could resort to physical intimidation and violence to regain control. She needs a plan that would help ensure her safety For example, having several friends present at a point of confrontation, having an escape plan or an alternate place for her and her children to go stay, notifying the police, obtaining a restraining order.
A wife has no assurances that his suffering the consequences will wake up her husband, end the abuse, or resolve their marital problems. She can, however, begin to love as Christ loved as she gradually begins to rest in the fact that God desires what is best for her. It may take a fairly long time to really believe this, but God is there to empower her to show love, to comfort her with love, and enliven her with a purpose for her own life no matter what happens ( Psalm 23:4 ). Her heart can begin to gain a growing confidence and peace that says, "I’m not totally powerless. I’m free to love. And although it may not work out between my husband and me, I am confident that it will work out between God and me."
Written by: Jeff Olson

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for this word of encouragement. I have recently had to make a decision to end an abusive relationship. I need to see these biblical truths; what a truth I have witnessed. Many thanks and blessings to you.

Anonymous said...

What a breath of fresh air after the emotional abusers as spouses are excused by fellow "Christians". God bless your heart!

existentialist on 5:02 PM said...

Thank you for this article. I ended an abusive marriage. I began it on September 19 1999. I ended it on May 15 2005. I am suffering dearly now...but gradually I am showing my husband that I will not allow him to abuse me emotionally any more. I asked him to move out on May 15. I started divorce on June 8.
I am showing my church I will not tolerate emotional abuse. Even today. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Good inspiring article. I am in a verbally/emotionally abusive relationship now and don't know how to handle it. I am growing the courage to ask him to move out so he can think about his actions. He is VERY mean and degrading to me. He has even thrown me around because he was annoyed I was emotionally upset. This is all ending. He will move out and not be allowed back until he has 100% changed his attitude.

Thanks for the encouragement.

Anonymous said...

I stayed in an abusive relationship for 20 years, emotionally and physically scaring myself and my children, I loved my husband and still love him, but he would not change. I have been searching the scriptures looking for justification for getting away and filing for divorce and have been finding no answers. Thank you for the reasurrance I have so desperately needed!

Anonymous said...

I am in an emotionally/physically controlling relationship and wish to end it. I pray for this stregth often, however I know that God needs me to make the first step. I just can't do it. His eldest daughter is the same as him although I will argue back with her - she will steal something from me or try and manipulate her younger sister to try and hate me (she is not silly and tells me so). I often say I am leaving and he will remark I dont care but you have wasted mine and my kids time for that I wil find you and kill you. Although I look after them now to the best of my ability and always have. Came across this article and I am going to see a Counciller and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

your words have come to me in a great time of need. I want desperately to save my marriage but my husband has said some very hateful things for so long and I no longer know if he is right or I am. I just know the words he says in anger hurts very badly and as a Catholic I want to save my marriage because I would be stuck with the consequence of remaining alone and not being able to participate in communion. I don't really know where to go from here.

Hannah on 7:38 AM said...

I would ask you to please seek out come support. Make sure your support clearly understands what you are living with. A local Domestic Voilence Shelter, a ministry that deals with abuse, or someone from the church that understands the dynamics of this. Please understand alot of people WANT to understand, but when they start making comments to shift the responsibility back to you...they don't get it. Keep looking until you find that support system that is needed so very badly! God will always be there, but he speaks of fellowship for a reason...and he wishes us to use it! Ask him to allow you to find that support that he wishes you to have here on earth, and also realize its a hard step at first but its worth it!

My prayers are with you!

Anonymous said...

I am currently living in a verbally/emotionally abusive marriage, I have been a Christian for many,many years and dearly love our Lord. I also know the pain of divorce, lifetime,pain. I honestly don't know which is worse. I dont believe divorce is an option for me but would love to find a support group for myself and spouse. If anyone knows of one I could use your help. I am not a weak fool who is staying in a marriage out of fear, honestly its the opposite.. I am brilliant, beautiful and capable. I just won't give up my family or husband without a fight. I still could use some tools to help minimize his effect on us until he decides to change. Thanks

Hannah on 2:41 PM said...

You could start by finding support boards like Focus Ministries or find a celebrate recovery program in your area!

Anonymous said...

It is very difficult to change the attitude of abusive husband. I have suffered for 25 years now and still suffer to the sake of my two daughters. Only God has to give me the power to tolerate my husband and make him realise his behaviour and change. or else live a life thinking it is god's wish

Hannah on 12:10 PM said...

I hope that you seek out support as well. We all need support, and important that the children know this behavior isn't Godly behavior. I think its easier to come up with consquences of bad behavior when you have a support system you can talk with about it. Just be careful that the advice you receive doesn't enable the behavior to continue.

Anonymous said...

I am from the Caribbean Island of St.Vincent&the Grenadines. I have read the article and found it rather uplifting. As christian women we are sometimes made to believe that we have to remain in abusive relationships because the word says that we should be submissive to our husbands. But the word also states that our body is the temple of GOD and therefore we should treat it with honour. That means, not sbjecting ourselves to physical abuse. Additionally, the scripture states that men out to love their wives as christ loves the church and that they must deal with their wives acording to knowledge. Any woman who remains in an abusive relationship is enabling her husband's behaviour and preventing him from coming to grips with his need for change.

Anonymous said...

Thank you writer

I am in a verbally abusive marraige. My church people and family really do not care to get involved so I need answers for myself. Often, I do not know how to handle the abuse. I am an educated woman and door for employment where I can take care of me and my child just will not come to me. I have to deal with the problem head on now. I do not want our marraige to desolve. I feel like sometimes I love my husband and sometimes not. To stay in the marraige I focus on the good things about him.

However, I feel in my gut that God really has to change him and me. I need to find true independence in the mist of the crazy economy somehow. He needs to stop claiming he is a christian and really act like one. I will be praying and fasting for both of us and try the methods that you suggested. Please pray for us. I am in tears right now because I feel like....

I do not know you and you don't know me, but you are a person who listen to the voice of God and cared enough to write this article. No body cares where I am not even my family.

Hannah on 3:48 PM said...

I'm sorry you are left to handle this load by yourself. Sadly, most people don't have the backbone to handle it.

I hope you contact your local domestic violence shelter, because they can give you personal tips one on one. Also Focus Ministries is an organization that handles this on the faith end. You truly do need some personal TLC (tender loving care).

I would keep my education on the abuse issue to yourself for right now. Abusive people tend to get very defensive, and their anxiety level go through the roof when it is brought up. They also naturally try to turn the tables on you - to show how some characteristic is you not them to excuse themselves. The 'you do it also' doesn't fly in God's eyes no matter how they twist it. Abuse is about a pattern of behavior.

Please check out my link page as I have tried to fill it with resources that may help you.

Blessings - Hannah

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