Psalms 34: 18, The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Women in an abusive marriage usually suffer alone. This is true even if she is a member of the Lord’s church. Too often they are afraid of reaching out for fear of the repercussions she or her children might face. Their abuse makes her feel alone, different, and misunderstood. Humiliation burrows deep down inside.
Abuse victims are often told if only they didn’t, hadn’t, or wouldn’t do thus and such, their abuser wouldn’t abuse them. This makes it hard for her to find the help and support she needs.
What follows is a peek inside the life of an abused woman from one who has walked in her shoes. If we don’t understand what our abused sisters are enduring, we can’t help them.
It’s no different from reaching out to help those with chronic illness, or someone who has gone through some disaster. If we can seek to understand their problems, we can seek to understand what those who are being abused are enduring.
The life of an abused woman
Galatians 6: 2, Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
She gets up in the morning, full of apprehension. She has so much to do. If she does it the wrong way, or at the wrong time, if she fails to do something that she ought to have done…she doesn’t even want to consider the consequences.
Her life is full of chaos, despair. It’s hard not to give into despair. She is just so afraid. Is God even pleased with her? She sometimes wonders.
Her pastor told her to search her own heart, make sure her motives are pleasing to God. She’s tried. Her Bible is underlined and highlighted. She tries to please Him. No matter how hard she tries, no matter what she does, her husband says she’s not submissive enough, that’s she’s lazy, and selfish. Sometimes she believes him.
Her pastor tells her that if she loves her husband more, obeys him better, things will get better. He assures her that her husband wants to be a good husband; she just has to be a good wife first.
Daily she searches her Bible to see where she’s failing. If only she could do better, be more, if only she could be perfect maybe her husband would be pleased with her.
She hurries to get her children ready for church. Serving breakfast, finding lost shoes, combing hair, washing faces, and cleaning up, are her jobs. They are always her jobs, even on those rare occasions he goes with them. Today isn’t one of those days.
Last night, he was out late. There were places he wanted to go. Friends he wanted to be with. Things he wanted to do. He came in late, exhausted, and agitated. Cursing, he told her he wasn’t about to go to “that place” tomorrow.
Rushing to get ready, her head starts to throb. If she can just do this quietly enough, maybe her husband won’t wake up. If he does, things will not go well.
She sits through the service trying to pay attention. She wants to worship God with joy like she used to. Before.…
She used to be a woman with joy; now she’s just a woman who endures. Often she doesn’t feel as if she can manage much longer. As the songs are sung, her mind strays. She tries to refocus but fear rushes over her.
What if the service runs late, causing her to be late getting home? Will her husband be angry? Or maybe she won’t get his lunch on time, fail to please him in some way and things escalate? Maybe the children will be too loud in their play; that always makes him angry.
No matter what she does, no matter how hard she tries, she never measures up to her husband’s ever-increasing demands. She tries to bring her mind, her heart, back to this moment. Asking God to forgive her, she fights back threatening tears.
The sermon ends. The final prayer is prayed. A benediction given. She’s afraid to make eye contact with those who speak to her. Fearful that they might see inside her, notice the bruises. Discover her secret.
Gathering their things, she motions her children towards the door: “We don’t have time for you to play, we’ve got to get home.”
Her husband scowls as she walks in the door. Her heart sinking, she sends the children to their room. Wanting lunch, they start to fuss. “Please, I’ll be right with you.” She knows it’s a lie. Her husband comes first, demands to come first. He always, always, comes first.
Her head pounds, meeting the rapid ratcheting of her heart. Her husband is finally settled. As she feeds her children, as she cleans, she talks to God, tells Him she wants to please Him. She begs Him to change her husband. To change her. Begs Him for forgiveness for ever doubting Him. For a moment, hope rises. Maybe there can be a better day…someday.
Her husband screams at her son, calling him stupid. Reality rushes in. This life, right here, just like this, may be all there ever is. She rushes to try to sooth her son, calm her husband. He turns on her, anger in his eyes.
Late that night, she goes to bed alone. Her children’s questions ringing in her ears: Why did Daddy say those things? Why doesn’t he like them? She had no answers.
She is so utterly tired of never being enough. Not for her children. Never for her husband. There’s just not enough of her to be enough. If only she weren’t her, maybe things would be alright.
As she drifts off to sleep, she justifies her husband’s actions. Blames herself that things got out of hand. She really shouldn’t set him off. She really ought to try harder…shouldn’t she? That’s what her husband always tells her, no matter how hard she tries.
His words of condemnation play around her head. His threats loom heavy. She falls asleep praying for a better day tomorrow.
She gets up the next morning, full of apprehension.
I’m don’t want you to be involved in social justice; I’m asking you to care for your sisters who are hurting and do what you can to help those whom God sees fit to put into your pathway. When confronted with the evil of domestic abuse, we are not guiltless if we ignore it.
What will you do if your sister tells you she’s being abused?
Psalms 11: 5, The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.