This year, 4 million women will be beaten in America. 4000 of them will die. This doesn’t cover the vast number of women emotionally abused. But it does include Christians. A pastor reports encountering a new case on the average of once every other month. He says, “These are middle-class church couples, generally both professing Christians with conservative upbringings.”1
Textbooks describe abuse as an assault on the mind or body, meant to make a person comply; including violent physical abuse, shouting, rationing money, regulating activity, locking her in or out of the home, sexual coercion, or continual demoralization through intimidation and threats.
Abusers go through three predictable phases:
1) Tension building, stress causing him to start wanting to destroy her morale to raise his own, blaming her for his problems, real and imagined.
2) Striking out; perhaps starting with a push but worsening over time.
3) The Honeymoon; suddenly becoming sorry, loving, buying gifts, promising to go to church and get counseling.
Then the cycle repeats, more intensely.
Psalm 11:5 says God hates those who love violence.
How can you help someone who is suffering abuse?
1) Start by listening. Keep what you hear confidential.
2) Don’t blame the victim.
3) Validate her. Be supportive but not directive. Understand that women will return an average of seven times before finally making a break.
4) Remind her that physical abuse is criminal. God does not require us to submit to illegal acts.
5) Encourage her to have a plan to avoid the next incident. In case she must flee to a shelter, she should have clothes, medication, important papers, photographs, cash and car keys where they can be grabbed quickly, and the name and address of the closest shelter.
By being prepared, you can be a friend to someone in need. You might even save a life.
And that’s Good News You Can Use!
“Secret Scars,” Muriel Kanoza, Virtue, July/Aug. ’93, Vol 15. #6