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April 2016

Have you ever considered what the bible says about abuse?
As a Christian survivor of domestic violence, I wanted to understand God’s view of violence-especially as it relates to abusive relationships. Through my personal bible study, I developed the conviction that abusive behaviors are sinful actions and should not be tolerated because they destroy both the abuser and the victim.

It is important to note that there are no stories about abusive martial relationships in the scriptures. Accepting violence is violating God’s plan for relationships.

What does the Bible say about abuse?
First, domestic violence is sinful. Let’s look at the scriptures that describe sinful behaviors and see how they relate to the characteristics of the abuser:

In Galatians 5:19-21, some of the characteristics of a sinful nature are discord, jealousy, fits of rage, dissensions and factions. These are tools abusers regularly use to control.

Fits of rage
Anyone who has experienced domestic knows what “fits of rage” look like up close. The Message Bible translation for “fits of rage” is “violent temper.” When a man* with a violent temper gets angry, his anger takes control of him. He loses his ability to think rationally, which demonstrates that he is dangerous and can seriously harm or kill without a thought about the consequences. This irrationality creates fear among those who see his temper, particularly his wife, which results in her constantly “walking on eggshells” to de-escalate his verbal and physical attacks.

The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence. He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked, punishing them with scorching winds. (Psalm 11:5–7, NLT)

Dissensions, Factions and Discord
The abuser causes dissensions (conflicts) within the family and factions (divisions) in the wife’s relationship with her friends, extended family, and church. For example, he undermines her relationship with her mother, closest friends or refuses to allow her time alone to visit her family. Social isolation makes her totally dependent on the abuser for emotional and physical support.

A scoundrel and villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart––he always stirs up dissension. Therefore, disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed without remedy. (Proverbs 6:12–15, NIV, emphasis mine)

The abuser shows excessive jealousy of his partner’s interactions with friends and family, co-workers and others who he imagines might threaten the relationship. He may present his behavior as love. He monopolizes her time and is suspicious of her activities that do not involve him.

For jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. (Proverbs 6:34. NIV)

All humans struggle with pride, but pride controls the abuser. He has a need to be right, feels superior at home and refuses to listen to advice from others. Tweet This

The abuser’s pride rears its head when the wife attempts to participate in the decision-making or parenting or, worse, suggests that they seek help for their relationship. He may turn these conversations into arguments, or he may ignore her and find an underhanded way to get what he wants, regardless of her stated needs or plans. He usually refuses to seek help for the marriage. When she attempts to seek outside help, he tells her, “You can’t think for yourself,” or “Why you do always let people tell you what to do?” His pride stops the family from seeking the help it desperately needs to survive.

Therefore, pride is their necklace. They clothe themselves with violence. (Psalm 73:6)
The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 15:5, NIV)

Verbal Abuse, Manipulation and Coarse Joking
The abuser’s communication process is filled with verbal abuse, perverse speech, word-twisting, and coarse joking to achieve control. He uses abusive language and makes belittling comments to make her feel unintelligent, less human, and not capable of understanding what his intentions are. He might say, “Are you stupid or what?” in response to her ideas or questions. He also twists words so that his wife leaves a conversation questioning her own motives. He distorts her words to use them against her. He keeps a record of or even invents past conversations and mistakes on her part as examples of her stupidity, immorality, laziness. He might accuse her of forgetting to pay bills or not washing the dishes when company is coming, etc.

They are always twisting what I say; they spend their days to harm me. (Psalm 56:5, NLT)

You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, “Do not murder.” I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother “idiot!” and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell “stupid!” at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill. (Matthew 5:21–22, The Message)

He may joke about his wife’s appearance, speech, or ideas in a hurtful way. He also may make threatening comments or engage in aggressive behaviors and then claim that he was playing or joking. Or he may make sexually degrading comments about her, her friends, or women in general. When she becomes upset about these behaviors, his response is, “Can’t you take a joke?” His jokes are not funny. They are intended to belittle or threaten her. These techniques cause her to doubt her thought processes and sanity, causing her to feel worthless.

Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” Proverbs 26:18–19 (NIV)

James 1:26 (NLT) advises Christians, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.”

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen, Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place… (Ephesians 5:4, NIV).

Lies and Deception
Lies and deception are an integral part of the abuser’s behavior. He can continue his abusive behavior only by deceiving those around him. The abuser wears his mask and is in control as he exposes what he wants others to see. He wants everyone outside the home to see him as a great husband and father. He keeps a record of all the great things he does for the family. He may boast about the gifts he gives them. On the outside, he may seem like a fun, easygoing guy or a hardworking, responsible family man. At home, he is different: cool, distant, easily irritated, and emotionally and physically abusive.

Do not lie. Do not deceive one another. (Leviticus 19:11, NIV).
A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart, he harbors deceit. Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart. His malice may be concealed by deception, but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. (Proverbs 26:24–26, NIV, emphasis mine)

The abuser is deceptive about his motives. He will give all kinds of reasons for his abusive behavior, but will never admit his true motive—control.

Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family. (Proverbs 6:16, The Message, emphasis mine).

So, who is responsible?
The scriptures are clear about abuse. They make it clear that abuse stems from the abuser, not the victim. Tweet This

The victim does not have the power to stop the abuse, only the abuser does. She does, however, have the power to expose the abuse and even has the moral responsibility to do so. If the sins of abuse are not dealt with, they destroy both the victim and the abuser physically and spiritually.

God’s way of dealing with sinful actions involves repentance. Therefore, we as survivors can ask for accountability for the abuser that might lead to his repentance. Accepting abusive behaviors not only violates our self-worth but also God’s commands.

Please check out my book, A Path to Hope. Restoring the Spirit of the Abused Christian Woman on Amazon or Barnes and Noble for more about my journey to freedom from abuse and spiritual and emotional healing.

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April 20, 2016 0 comment
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Edith: “I don’t understand his behaviors. He told me a few minutes ago that he loves me, yet he’s calling me stupid and lazy for leaving dirty dishes in the sink. Why does he say he loves and then treats me this way?”

“Why does he say he loves me, and then hurts me?” Women in abusive and potentially abusive relationships often find themselves asking this question.

Before we can answer the question, “How can he say he loves me and then hurt me?” we must first define what love is. Although most people agree that certain behaviors are associated with love, there are individual differences. I associate love with hearing the words “I love you,” physical and emotional intimacy, the acknowledgment of occasions that are important to me, listening to and validating my feelings, appreciation of the things I do, assistance with child care and household duties.

  • How did you define love before you entered your relationship?

In an abusive relationship, what a woman considered to be love when she entered the relationship changes over time.

  • f you are in a relationship now, ask yourself — how you know that your partner loves you
  • How do you define love now?
  • How does that definition differ from your definition of love before you entered the relationship?
  • Has your definition of loved changed to accommodate your partner’s behaviors or beliefs about love?

For example, some women come to believe that the fact that their husband wants to have sex with them means that he loves them, even when he physically and/or emotionally abuses them. Or women come to believe that a man’s gifts, apologies, and extra attention after he physically or emotionally attacks them is a sign that he still loves them. His words and actions are inconsistent, which leads to confusion.

  • Do you ever feel confused about your partner’s feelings for you because his actions contradict his words?

If you feel confused by your partner’s behaviors or feel that your definition of love has changed to accommodate his behaviors, you probably wonder how you got to this place.

In this blog and series of blogs, I discuss the concept of “love” and how it applies in abusive relationships. My next blog will discuss how an abuser’s actions gradually change his partner’s definition of love, view of herself, and ultimately, her own behaviors and habits. Later blogs will provide some solutions for women who are in abusive relationships. This material will be presented from a Christian perspective. I will share my insight as a survivor of domestic abuse and as the author of The Path to Hope.

Dig into the well: ” How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 36:7, NIV).

Check out my book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, The Path to Hope: Restoring the Spirit of the Abused Christian Woman for more on how transformation occurs.

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I am overwhelmed with my thoughts. They are jumbled up with no sense of direction which has intensified the feeling of giving up. Consequently rejecting any information that might lead to a solution base focus; my brain feels like it is in overload and can’t process any new information. I asked myself, “What I am doing here?” I am not sure what “here” means. Gazing in so many directions and making subconscious evaluations have led to the feeling of defeat. “I can’t do what they are doing”, I say; and that self-defeating thinking has contributed to my state of mind.

My child-like behavioral characteristics are also coming to the surface. It feels like God is still, and I am a child with no supervision. It is frightening to feel like a child without protection or skills, attempting to venture into the complex and vast social media. I am fearful that I will be swallowed up by the all-knowing and lack-of-conscience social media world. In addition, there are so many uncertainties related to the role I would like to play that it is difficult to discern God’s voice. As a result, I am throwing tantrums, blaming God for bringing me here. “Why did he allow me to write a book?” “Why did he allow me to share my soul and the souls of others and then let me stand here with no direction?” I have invested a lot of money and time, for what purpose?

I can’t stay here, but how do I get out of this state of mind? Then, I am reminded of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. Elijah had a great victory, but when he heard that Jezebel was trying to kill him, he ran away. He suddenly forgot a miracle had occurred when he prayed and fire came down from heaven and destroyed the sacrifices of the prophets of Baal to their gods. When approached by an angel after he ran away, his response was, “I have had enough, Lord, take my life for I am no better than my ancestors.” Due to his fear of Jezebel, he doubted his accomplishments and discouragement led to defeat. He might have felt that he wasn’t good enough and might have questioned God for letting his life be threatened.

I can relate to Elijah’s emotional response after his great victory. I wrote a book on a topic that should be addressed in the church. God placed the desire in me to be brave and share my experiences and the experiences of others so that his daughters can achieve freedom from abuse. The abused Christian woman needs to have her voice heard and supported as she emotionally and physically attempts to protect herself and her children from domestic abuse. Even though I don’t consider myself a writer (still evolving), God didn’t let that stop him. He sent many helpers along the way to help complete his work. I have had numerous positive responses especially from women who are experiencing abuse. This is a victory! Yet, when I perceive that someone might have a negative response, doubts and inadequacy dominate all the positives. Immediately, I start to question my skills and abilities and God’s calling.

I love how the angel responded to Elijah. He didn’t state how ungrateful he was, or say, “I can’t believe you are afraid of Jezebel after seeing what I did.” The angel focused on meeting Elijah’s physical needs first by providing food and allowing him to rest. Further into the story, the angel confirmed that he will need strength because the journey ahead was too much for him.

As I reflect the on angel’s response to Elijah, I too need to rest from my self-destructive thinking. God’s response to me is not punitive, instead, he extends his arms for me to come and rest. Physical rest is required to revive my mind. When that occurs, I can then prioritize the skills and resources I need to market my book effectively and respond to God’s calling.

There is a great work ahead. Therefore, to be successful, I will have to not only rely on God for physical and mental strength but also on others.

I am thankful to God for his mercy towards me even when I let my tantrums question his plans for my life. Today I want to hold on to the words of the song “Great is Your Mercy” by Donnie McClurkin. “Great is your mercy towards me, your loving kindness toward me, your tender mercies I see day after day.” I pray that I see his kindness and mercies in all of my thoughts and actions.

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