Domestic abuse as it is…and isn’t
No matter what our subject, as Christians the Bible must be the lens we look through. This is true on everything from church government to parenting, from finances to free time; it’s equally true concerning domestic abuse.
When I say, “preach the Gospel,” I don’t mean that Christians shouldn’t have a voice fighting against injustice, abortion, abuse, etc., I mean that many evangelicals have forgotten that activism doesn’t transform the heart, only “preaching the Gospel” does that!— Dustin Benge (@DustinBenge) June 16, 2020
Welcome to my page on domestic abuse. Here we’ll look at what domestic abuse is and is not, the difference in a bad marriage and an abusive one, my story, God’s grace to the abused, and some resources that might help you. We’ll also take a look at how feminism and progressive Christianity has hijacked the domestic abuse industry (for that is what it is) and what the church can do to serve the abused as Christ would have them to.
I walk an interesting line. I’ve seen abuse from so many angles. I grew up in abuse and married an abuser. I know what it is like to be an abused woman, wife, mother, and daughter, first hand. I’ve co-written a book on abuse and delved deep into the beliefs of those who help, counsel, and guide abuse victims.
Abusers lie, many within the domestic abuse industry lie, and some who claim to have been abused weren’t actually ever abused. We as Christians must seek to help those who are being abused while not believing lies or furthering the purposes of either the abuser or the abuse industry. It takes seeking Christ and His glory to traverse the evils on all sides. In order to help abuse victims as the Lord would have us to do so, we must understand what domestic abuse is and isn’t.
In order to help abuse victims as the Lord would have us to do so, we must understand what domestic abuse is and isn’t. Too often, women are counseled to see themselves as being abused when they aren’t. Feminists pounce without mercy on those in traditional and patriarchal marriages.
I’ve never formally studied domestic abuse. What I know, I know from having lived in and among abusers all of my life, from co-authoring a book on domestic abuse with a Reformed Baptist pastor, co-authoring our blog/website for abuse victims, talking to many abuse victims worldwide, and discussing abuse with other authors, counselors, and others who dealt with domestic abuse. I have come to realize several things about domestic abuse that, while I am not trying to gain attention as an abuse expert, which I most decidedly am not nor do I desire to be, I would like to share with you–Christian woman to Christian woman.
Not everything that is called domestic abuse is actually abuse. This is important to note in order to protect those who are actually victims of domestic abuse and to expose all the frauds within the abuse system. Too often when women don’t get their way, men actually step up to lead, or a woman is told “no” by her husband, someone is going to step up and claim she’s being abused.
Domestic abuse is about control. The abuser is determined to get his way and uses whatever resources he has available to him to force his will on another. It is a repetitive set of actions that are intended to force another person in your family to do what you want, no matter what harm might be caused to them. The perpetrator uses fear, force, pain, lies, threats, humiliation, and/or coercion in order to gain control over another person, usually his spouse. Domestic abuse might involve physical, sexual, emotional, financial, spiritual, verbal abuse or even forced isolation of his victim. Yet much of what falls into these categories that is claimed to be abuse, isn’t. Victims are encouraged to see as abusive things that aren’t (Did he yell at you? Did he put you on a budget? Did he…act like a biblical husband? Obviously, he’s abusive).
Feminists ruin everything they touch and they have fully infiltrated the domestic abuse industry, women’s shelters, domestic abuse counseling, and all else related to helping women who have been abused. Too often, women are counseled to see themselves as being abused when they aren’t. Feminists, having no biblical understanding, pounce without mercy on those in patriarchal marriages and claim abuse where there is none.
In order to help abuse victims as the Lord would have us to do so, we must understand what domestic abuse is and isn’t. Domestic abuse is not your husband’s ill-temper, general impatience, selfishness, or air of superiority. A man like this is in sin but he isn’t abusive. He needs to be called to repentance not threatened with divorce.
Being called to submit to your husband doesn’t make you a doormat. You don’t have to like the decisions your husband makes but disliking them doesn’t mean that he is being cruel to you. Yet our modern feministic society says otherwise.
There’s a world of difference in a bad marriage and an abusive one. A bad marriage may see the two of you fussing and fighting and never getting along but that doesn’t mean either of you is being abusive. That’s called sin. You are called by God to submit to your husband. He is called to love you like Christ. If the two of you are failing in this, you are both in sin and need to repent.
Seeing what isn’t abuse as domestic abuse actually hurts the real victims of domestic abuse. Crying wolf hurts everyone because if everything is abuse, nothing is.
For the purposes of this page, we will deal with domestic abuse in marriage and with the husband as the abuser. Let this be understood: Not all abusers are male. There are many women who abuse their husbands or even their children.
Abuse may be from adult child to their parents. It might be through some other familial relationship. I realize this. I’ve known some men who were abused by their wives, even some who were attacked by their girlfriends. I’ve known adult children controlled and dominated by abusive parents and parents who were controlled and abused and dominated by their adult children.
Since feminism encourages women to exert dominance in all areas of life, it’s also led to increased verbal, emotional, and even physical abuse of men. This isn’t popular to say but it’s truth. I have known several men who have been abused by a wife or girlfriend. Men who are abused physically often suffer deep shame. Even today, many men will not hit a woman even if she strikes him first; evil women so inclined sometimes take advantage of this.
Most victims, however, are women. But, not all women who claim to be abused have actually been abused. Ungodly women will lie about being abused and many have. However, no woman seeking God’s glory will lie and tell you that she has been abused if she has not been.
But since I write to and for women, I am choosing to write about male to female abuse. This doesn’t mean that I believe only women are abused (as I’ve already stated) nor does it mean that I believe most men are prone to be abusive.
The victim of abuse often isn’t aware that she is being abused. While this might seem amazing, it is absolutely true. What you grow up in or live for extended periods in becomes normal to you. When you are told you do not matter, when pain accompanies your daily life, when everything is always your fault, when you live constantly in fear, that is your normal. If someone or something doesn’t awaken you from your confusion, you will remain confused. The fog that accompanies abuse is very real and not easy to overcome. You may not see yourself as being abused. I didn’t, not with my mother, and not with my husband–until later. While this may sound wonky, or even as if what I endured wasn’t true abuse if I didn’t even identify it as abuse, that’s simply not true.
There are different forms of abuse. This is truly important to keep in mind; however, it’s also important to remember that feminists and progressive activists want to identify any form of male leadership or parental control in the family as domestic abuse and this most assuredly isn’t the case.
An abuser defines reality for his victim. He wants his victim to see herself through his lens rather than through the lens of truth. He may gaslight her–this is a form of convincing her that day is night and black is white. He slowly causes her to question her own sanity. “Did this really happen?–or did I imagine it?” He’ll deny he’s said what she’s certain she heard him say. That thing that he just did? It never happened. That book wasn’t on the table just a moment ago. He never told her she was incompetent (or whatever it was he said). He never went, failed to go, said, didn’t say, did, or didn’t do…anything…. If he can convince her of this, he is gaslighting her (named after an old 1940’s movie). This is a common trait with abusers and one my mother and my husband repeatedly used with me.
Domestic abuse might be spiritual abuse or control (twisting Scripture to try to control her or to justify his abuse, or to make fun of her faith, etc), physical battering (some form of physical action against another–shoving, hitting, driving dangerously intentionally with them in the car, punching, pinching, etc.), destruction of property (destroying or hurting things that are important to her with the intent to gain control through the threats or action; might be physical property, might be a pet, can even be used through issues threats against her child), ongoing verbal and emotional cruelty (includes name calling, belittling, gaslighting, lies, threatening to lie, lies to others, etc.), isolation (refusing to allow her to have contact with others), financial and physical deprivation (controlling the money to the point she cannot buy the things she needs or her children need; refusing her clothes, shelter, medical care, etc.), and sexual abuse (feminists aside, yes, sexual abuse in marriage is real; porn is often involved as is physical abuse of some form).
The victim is blamed for the abuse she suffers and told if she’d only do better or be better, etc., he wouldn’t be forced to do or say the things he does. The victim is often forced to apologize to the abuser for things she’s neither done or said. Abusers use fear to demand obedience. This is a different kind of fear than that of reverent fear. This is a fear of pain, fear of what the abuser might say or do, and sometimes even a fear for one’s life.
Abuse follows a cycle of abuse, abuser’s guilt, victim blaming, and promises to do better. Desiring to believe that it’s now over, the victim often accepts the apologies and fails to seek help.
What domestic abuse is not and how feminists lie about abuse
“The feminist doctrine of women’s victimhood is the major cause for the overwhelming public interest in women’s issues. The imbalance in attention given to women’s issues existed for at least the last 200 years of modern history, but it received an enormous boost through the activities of the radical feminist activists that made their appearance in the mid-1960s.”
“The [Domestic Violence] law was originally drafted to protect women from violence in the home. In its present form, it not only runs roughshod over any due process protections for the men accused, it is also used to prosecute people, mainly men, for actions which 1) are perceived as threatening by the alleged (female) victim, and 2) have not yet happened, but may happen” and “Radical feminists have constructed elaborate ‘dangerousness assessment’ tests that reduce to gender profiling: Men are always dangerous, while female malfeasance is rationalized and excused.”
“[W]e’ve done one better than [George Orwell’s] “1984.” We don’t just prosecute for “thought” crimes. We prosecute based on the thoughts of someone else.”
“[W]omen intent on “giving him a lesson he’ll never forget,” can use this law to throw a man out of his own home, take away his legal rights to even see his children, and set the stage for the financial rape that will follow by virtue of being in possession of the marital home, kids, and property. All of this is based on her statement that she has “fear” of him. No claim of actual violence is required.”— Do Restraining Orders Cause Domestic Violence?
by Mark Charalambous. Massachusetts News
There is a great deal of reckless disregard for the truth in radical feminism. Some of it is so blatant that it certainly deserves to be called lying, but some of it appears to reflect the delusions of paranoia. What is worrisome is that so much serious misrepresentation passes into the realm of “truth.” One might think that misrepresentations about checkable facts could not survive long in an open society, but they can and do, probably because the press and academe are very pro-feminist. When a sensational report about the amount of domestic violence against women appears, newspapers, magazines, and even textbooks relay the news, and it quickly becomes established folklore. The attitudes formed as a result are embedded in the culture. Yet the facts, for those who care about them, indicate that these reports are wild exaggerations or flat misrepresentations… For some people, there can be no surer evidence of a conspiracy than the fact that no conspiracy is apparent. After all, a really effective conspiracy would be invisible. Feminists’ ideology is a fantasy of persecution. ~ Robert H. Bork (1996) Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline (pp.193-225)
Perjury has become the coin of the realm in [Domestic Violence Court ]. People’s homes are invaded because of lies. People are arrested because of lies. People go to prison because of lies. People stay in prison because of lies, and sometimes, bad guys go free because of lies. Lying has become a significant problem in [Domestic Violence] court cases because the rewards to [the Lying party] can be so great and the consequences so minimal. Perjurers are seldom punished; neither are the law enforcement officers who ignore or accept their lies. ~The damage of lies, By Bill Moushey, Post-Gazette Staff Writer, November 29, 1998
“[W]omen report using violence in their relationships more often than men” and “wives hit their husbands at least as often as husbands hit their wives.”~ Hitting the Wall, After 20 years of domestic violence research, scientists can’t avoid hard facts, Mother Jones Magazine, Nancy Updike, May/June 1999
Lenore Walker, speaking at a Laguna Beach conference, as reported in the SF Chronicle “Our research and most other studies show that wife-battering occurs in 50 percent of families throughout the nation.” The SF Chronicle comments, “Only the most crazed man-hater could believe that.”
Lenore Walker, after visiting one of the early shelters for battered women, wrote “I was struck by what a beneficial alternative to the nuclear family this arrangement [communal housing and child raising] was for these women and children.” (The Battered Woman, p.195)
“The Violence Against Women Act slipped into law in 1994 without most members of Congress quite knowing what they were passing. We have Andrea Dworkin’s word on this. Dworkin is surely a contender for the North American title of most overwrought, man-hating feminist. She told the New Republic at the time that the only possible explanation for the bill’s popularity in the Senate was the ‘senators don’t understand the meaning of the legislation that they pass.‘ In plain English, she seemed to mean that Congress was naively institutionalizing the radical view of domestic violence as antifemale terrorism by a relentless oppressor class — men.— U. S. News, page 12, John Leo. January 24, 2000
Far more serious are the accusations of actual rape when nothing of the sort occurred. A female student came to a male student’s quarters with her toothbrush, planning to stay the night. The next morning she was seen having a peaceable breakfast with the man. Later she charged him with rape and he was briefly held in jail. (John Leo, “De-escalating the gender war” U.S. News and World Report, April 18,1994, p.24.) Accusations of date rape are flung freely by women who consented and later changed their minds about what they did. ~Robert H. Bork (1996) Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline Regan Books/HarperCollins, NY (pp.193-225)
“Believing what [feminists] say about family violence is like believing what the tobacco companies say about cancer… [M]isleading statistics are a deliberate fund raising tactic for women’s shelters. The shelter movement almost never mentions scientific studies.” ~ Sam and Bunny Sewell, Family Resources & Research.
“…the hysteria over domestic violence is largely geared toward one aim: removing children from their fathers. Donna Laframboise of the National Post investigated battered women’s shelters in the US and Canada and concluded they constituted “one stop divorce shops” whose primary purpose was not to shelter abused women but to promote divorce. These shelters, many of which are federally funded, issue affidavits against fathers sight-unseen that are accepted without any corroborating evidence by judges eager (for their own bureaucratic reasons) to justify restraining orders against fathers and the removal of their children. Feminists themselves contend that most domestic violence takes place within the context of “custody battles.” “All of this domestic violence industry is about trying to take children away from their fathers,” writes Irish Times columnist John Waters, who predicts: “When they’ve taken away the fathers, they’ll take away the mothers.”
Fathers for Life has many links to great resources on feminism and domestic abuse.
I saw the abuse industry from the inside out. I co-wrote a very popular book on domestic abuse with a Reformed Baptist pastor. At the time, I was still married to my abuser. I hurt every single day. I was desperate for hope. I glommed onto the hope held out to me by my co-writer (a man who misled me, lied to me and to others about me, lied to and about the church, and ultimately put me and my children in further danger through made and broken promises).
When our book was published, it was welcomed with open arms. Christians rejoiced at the inside look at domestic abuse by an abused wife and a Reformed pastor. The passionate and positive reviews came pouring in. I was relatively new to the Reformed faith (less than half a decade and none of that, because of our circumstances, spent in an actual reformed church). I was hungry for biblical truth and I was desperate for help due to the abuse we lived in. At first, I welcomed all of the positive and glowing reviews. I set up a blog for my co-writer and I. I contacted folks who could help us promote our book. I did… a lot…to further his and my efforts because I honestly believed I was doing something good to help my sisters who just might be living in the same kind of pain that I and my children lived in.
In the meantime, things started happening that, while simply making me uncomfortable at first, eventually drove a wedge between me and my co-author. I include a further and more detailed statement about it below but suffice it to say for now: The feminists loved what we were doing. So did those promoting humanism. As did the liberal leaning arm of the Reformed church (which, at that time, I had no idea was liberal leaning; I had so much to learn…). I didn’t realize any of this at first but once I did, I pleaded with my co-author to let’s…stop. Let’s point to the Gospel as the only true means of liberating women. Let’s not associate with those whose agenda was not God’s glory. But…no. His attacks against true men of God were ramping up. Anyone who didn’t see the dangers of domestic abuse as he did was not to be trusted. It didn’t matter if they understood the Gospel and faithfully preached it; domestic abuse was all that mattered. The wheels were in motion. Eventually, I bailed. I had no choice. God’s glory was at stake.
“Believing what [feminists] say about family violence is like believing what the tobacco companies say about cancer… [M]isleading statistics are a deliberate fund raising tactic for women’s shelters. The shelter movement almost never mentions scientific studies.” — Sam and Bunny Sewell, Family Resources & Research.
A life spent in abuse
My father was a physically abusive drunk who neglected and abandoned his family repeatedly. One of my first two memories, bound up together so I don’t know which occurred first, is of him slamming his fist into our kitchen table, cursing my mother and threatening to knock her teeth down her throat. He was vulgar and loud. Terrifying. Even in my fear, I jumped between them with a tiny child’s determination to protect my Mama.
There’s so many stories–of him throwing me across a room and slamming me into a wall, of him burning my mother and breaking her nose, threatening her with a butcher knife, causing Mama to lose her jobs, lose her apartments, stealing our car, depriving me of needed medical care when I was but a few months old and running a raging fever for several days (which resulted in life-long health issues for me) and so much–so utterly much–more. We spent the first five years of my life in fear of Daddy, running away from him, reconciling with him, and having him abuse or abandon us. Again and again.
My mother, who was bi-polar and suffered from lifelong depression, was the best mother any child could have had for the first several years of my life. She became extremely emotionally abusive towards me when I was around 10 years old. From that point onward, I grew up hearing from her that I was evil, just like my father, that I hated her, being told that I was selfish and cruel, and being made fun of in painful and embarrassing ways. Her words still resonate in my heart and my mind.
I spent my life taking care of her. Since it was just she and I, there was no one else to step forward. I loved her and rejoiced in being able to care for her. I believed and valued the 5th commandment. Yet, the last time I talked to Mama, just days before she died, she once again told me just how disappointed in me she was and how I’d abused her all my life. It wasn’t true but it hurt nonetheless.
I married a man whom I thought was my knight in shining armor. He turned out to be a man who abused me in every way possible and who also abused my children. I’ve been left with bruises and cuts after his punishments. He crashed the car we were in while driving in a rage. I’ve been slapped by him more times than I could count, held against a wall while he raged at me, called vulgar names, and endlessly lied to and about.
He moved us endlessly as he lost one job after another, many in exceedingly poor condition. He ran up debt he couldn’t or wouldn’t pay (including in my name, without my permission), filed bankruptcy three times, and kept us secluded. So very often we did without the things we really needed. Many, many, times I turned to God asking for food, to keep the lights on, or a roof over our heads. Pain and fear was a constant in my life with him.
The last house we lived in together was falling to pieces, quite literally. We lived for five years in a house that had been broken into and destroyed. It was covered in graffiti throughout the inside. The flooring was rough and ugly. The kitchen cabinets had been yanked from the wall. There was a hole in the kitchen ceiling where water poured through when someone showered. The back porch was falling in. The air conditioner nor the furnace worked for much of our time there. Our furniture was in tatters and falling to pieces, we had little to nothing in most ways, and what we did have was damaged. Lest you think we lived there with the plan of fixing it up, you would be wrong. My husband stayed months behind on the rent and we barely kept the power on, and then only through the kindness of friends and agencies. We barely took care of ourselves, let alone had money to fix it up.
The question might arise as to why things were so bad and why didn’t we do more about it? That, too, is tied up in the abuse we suffered. My husband was on his next-to-last job when we moved there and, ultimately, another one he was fired from. It’s incredibly hard to be fired from a state job, yet he was. Afterwards, he became a box boy and then a janitor for a store down the road (a job he would also lose). Even with the state, he barely made enough to pay the rent and he utilities and he didn’t do that. My health prevents me from working and I was a mother of younger children, trying to protect, guide, raise, and defend them. Most of my now older children, affected as they were by the abuse we lived in, had moved on and refused to help in any way. My oldest son stayed and he helped. He gave up college and seminary for a time in order to be there for me and my children. I never asked him to but he felt the Lord would want him to. He injured his back on the job so severely that he ended up having to have back surgery which, ultimately, led to our release from the situation.
I am now separated and seeking a divorce for infidelity and abuse. My elders have deemed such a divorce to be biblical. His financial abuse and wastefulness was so extensive that even now, I am still struggling. How do you start over when you’ve had nothing for so long? A step at a time, over a long period of time. SDG
Even though I am now separated from him, the cycle of abuse continues through the lies he convinced some of my children to believe about me. Parental estrangement often accompanies domestic abuse. I am a mother of 9, I love all of my children as only a mother can; because of my husband and their own choices, not all of them have chosen to love me. Choosing to rebel, some have screamed at me, told me they hate me, cursed me, one son hit me and damaged my shoulder, and more.
The pain of all of this could be an endless morass of heartbreak. My reward is that those of my children who love the Lord truly love Him. Nothing makes me happier.
But God…what they meant for evil, He meant for good.
Comforted to comfort
One of the most comforting promises in Scripture for those who struggle is contained in 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4, Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
For those of us who have suffered under the heavy hand of domestic abuse and yet have put our faith and trust in the Lord and His ways, God promises to comfort us and then enable us to comfort others. This requires us to see God’s Word clearly and to see domestic abuse through God’s eyes. Too many in the church today view it through the lens of feminism. But God is clearly a God who is sovereign in all ways and this includes over domestic abuse.
What is a Christ honoring abuse ministry?
Matthew 22: 36-40, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
In these dark desperate days the church is allowing domestic abuse in general and sexual abuse specifically to drive it towards Social Justice, towards being Woke. Towards sin.
Feminism has its thumbprint firmly on secular domestic abuse ministries and very often on those in the church, also. So often, when marriage problems arise, men are told they are in the wrong, even if they aren’t. Women are believed, even when they are lying. We’re told women can’t lie, wouldn’t lie, and thus must always be believe. Looking at Scripture proves that women can and do lie. Just look at the story of Potiphar’s wife and Joseph.
Domestic abuse cannot be understood nor can the victims of it truly be helped outside of the truth of God’s Word.
When churches come alongside of those who have been abused it is a beautiful Christ-honoring witness to our sin-sick world. There are many ways that churches can minister to those who have been or are being abused. These might involve counseling, financial counseling, coming alongside her children and involving them in normal family relationships (having the family over to dinner, going to ball games or other fun events, or simply having a game night, etc.), helping her or even the older children to find ways to bring in money, helping the mother of young children to find ways to work from home (encouraging her to work outside of the home–which is what is usually done–furthers the destruction of the family and even makes things financially harder on her due to having to pay for childcare), helping find a place to stay, helping furnish her home, and so on. No church can do everything but every single church, no matter how small, can do something to help those who have been victims of domestic abuse. Above all, all must be done for God’s glory.
The Lord calls us to love Him first and foremost and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This includes our care for those who have suffered the wrath of an abuser.
Domestic abuse hotline
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Deaf callers using video phone 1-855-812-1001 (Monday-Friday, 9 am -5 pm PST)
Help for your pets
The Cycle of abuse
Something happens to cause your abuser to lash out. It might be problems at work, not feeling well, not getting enough sleep, drinking or drugs, pornography, family problems, or something else.
The victim, sensing something is wrong, seeks to rectify it. She becomes hypersensitive to his needs, seeking to provide comfort and to relieve the tension, and does all she can not to set her abuser off.
Abuse of whatever sort or sorts ensues. The abuser might blame the one he is abusing, telling her that she has set him off, has failed in some way and thus caused him to abuse her, and so on. This is false. Even if she has failed him in some way, her failure never excuses his abuse of her (and vice versa).
- Honeymoon stage
After having abused his victim, the abuser often attempts to use kindness, gifts, compliments, and more to bring about forgiveness and reconciliation. This loving behavior often causes the victim to feel more loving towards her abuser and leads her to believe that this, not the abuse, is reality.
- Peace and calm ensues for a time
During this period, the abuser might blame others for his abuse, apologize but justify his behavior, minimize or deny his abuse, accuse his victim of provoking the abuse, make promises that the abuse is in the past, lavish his victim with shows of love, etc. The result of this is that the victim excuses the abuse, doubts her memory, and convinces herself that the abuse was really nothing. She starts to believe that the abuse is all in the past, the abuser has really changed, and that nothing like that will ever happen again (if it was even an event). And then it does…repeatedly…again and again and again and….
A bad marriage or an abusive marriage?
Abusers use fear to demand obedience. This is a different kind of fear than that of reverent fear. This is a fear of pain, fear of what the abuser might say or do, and sometimes even a fear for one’s life.
Below are some signs that you might be being abused. Keep in mind that some of these are far worse than others and experiencing one or two of them doesn’t necessarily mean that you are being abused. An isolated incident doesn’t mean that you have been abused.
There’s a world of difference between a bad marriage and an abusive one. In a bad marriage, due to a lack of caring or a failure to communicate–and always, a failure to seek the Lord’s pleasure–partners might misunderstand, taunt, heartlessly tease, even belittle one another, without abuse being present. In a domestic abuse situation, the abuse is focused in one direction–there is an abuser and there is a victim of abuse. One person controls, manipulates, and brings pain; the other is the victim of control, manipulation, and pain.
Abusers use fear to demand obedience. This is a different kind of fear than that of reverent fear. This is a fear of pain, fear of what the abuser might say or do, and sometimes even a fear for one’s life.
Signs of potential domestic abuse
Below are some potential signs of domestic abuse. It is important to keep in mind that not everything on this list is equally as bad. It’s also important to note that just because you experience some of these mistreatments doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a victim of domestic abuse; there are degrees of mistreatment. Sometimes, in a bad marriage, where both partners are at fault, each may use some of these against each other. However, it also must be noted that if you are being abused, your spouse may engage in some, many, or even perhaps all of these behaviors.
It is important to note that we are speaking of repetitive behaviors, not an occasional outburst. Everybody sins. What determines whether you are being abused or not is the intent, the repetitiveness, and ultimately whether or not repentance has taken place.
- belittles you or your efforts
- is controlling
- cannot be pleased
- causes you to believe that you cannot do anything right
- causes you to feel afraid, helpless, numb
- makes you believe that you deserve to be hurt
- does and says things to cause you to doubt yourself or your sanity
- causes you to have trouble making decisions
- makes you wonder if you are crazy
- intentionally humiliates you
- calls you stupid, an idiot, etc.,
- calls you vile or vulgar names
- has a bad or unpredictable temper and uses it against you
- blames you for his anger or outbursts
- blames you for his abuse of you (you made me do this)
- hits you
- yells at you
- gives you the silent treatment
- treats you like a slave or says you are his slave
- treats you like a sex object
- is abusive during sexual relations
- says you have no rights and treats you as if you have none
- tells you need to be punished for being you or for being a woman
- is possessive or excessively jealous of you
- prevents you from seeing or talking to your family or friends
- constantly checks up on you (in order to control you)
- prevents you from leaving the house alone or with others
- controls the finances so that you cannot purchase the things you or the family needs (this is not oveerseeing or budgeting)
- prevents you from having proper health care
- rapes you (yes, mutual physical satisfaction is God-commanded; rape is different)
- he punishes you in some way
- threatens to abandon you, put you in a corner, lock you in a room, etc., or actually does so
- he threatens harm to your family or friends or actually does so
- threatens to harm you or your children or actually does so
- threatens to harm your pets or actually harms them
- he threatens to destroy items important to you or actually does
- threatens to lie about you or actually does so
- he threatens to harm you or your children if you tell anyone about the abuse or if you leave him
- threatens to kill himself if you leave him
- causes you to lose items to repossession
- sells, gives away, or destroys things that are important to you
- throws things, breaks things, punches holes in walls
- prevents you from using the phone or the computer (to prevent you from getting help)
- forces you to perform degrading sexual acts
- insists you change who you are in order to please him
Can abusers change?
Abusers can change but it is rare that they do. Abusers have a heart that is hardened by their sin. They don’t care about pleasing God so they are not bound by His Word or by a desire to be a good husband. Their only desire is to please themselves.
But God…He can do anything. Sometimes, He does. If an abuser does change, he will change completely. He will be brought to repentance and will no longer blame you for the abuse. He will completely change the way he relates to you, treats you, and the way he speaks to and of you. He won’t have to tell you or others that he has changed; the change will be obvious to everyone.
The abuser will not only repent to you, he will repent to others. This means that he will repent to and make things right with anyone who has been affected by his abuse, misled by him, lied to by him, anyone deceived about his treatment of you or your reactions or intentions (including children, other family members, friends, etc.). He will repent first and foremost before God. If such repentance happens, it will be obvious. He will then seek to honor God as a husband, through the way he treats you and your children. If such change is not evident, he didn’t truly repent.
Not all of these boooks are written from a Christian perspective and those that are cannot be seen as a theological textbook; all of these have some good information on issues relating to domestic abuse. By Christian I mean that they embrace biblical principals; I am not endorsing everything every author believes.
If you purchase a book through a link below, I will receive a small commission.
Shame Interrupted by Edward T. Welch (Christian)
Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities by David Instone-Brewer (this was recommended by several reformed pastors) (Christian)
A statement on the book on abuse that I co-authored
In 2010, I came across a sermon series on domestic abuse that Reformed Baptist Pastor Jeff Crippen had just posted online. I’d woken up in the wee hours of that morning full of fear and overwhelmed by the pain in my family due to my husband’s cruelty. After listening to the sermons, I contacted Pastor Crippen to thank him for what he’d posted. Two years later, we co-wrote the book A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church.
A couple of years later, I ended our association. After being welcomed in the abuse community, which is overwhelmingly feministic and progressive, he began embracing feminist, leftist, humanistic beliefs that were not Christ-honoring. I couldn’t support that so after I wrote him a letter begging him to reconsider some of his newer stances and he refused, we parted ways.
Through his blog, Pastor Crippen publicly attacked RC Sproul and John MacArthur, among others. He attacked patriarchy (which towards the end of our association, he said he now hated) and even complementarianism (stating that for the husband to be the leader was unfair and abusive). Pastor Crippen wrote a post stating that having disavowed both of these due to his eyes being opened by his new associates, he went on to state that his marriage was now “equal” in roles and responsibility. He also wrote (in a post he later deleted) that abortion was acceptable in cases of rape and to state otherwise was to abuse women who’d already been abused by rape. And so on…. Eventually he left the blog and most if not all of his posts were deleted at his request by Barbara Roberts, who now runs the blog.
Pastor Crippen never paid me for my work on the book. He has publicly spread lies about me that, through those who know us both, have come back to me. I’m not telling you this to attack him. I would invite you to pray for him.