“Most people think “abuse” is just physical attacks such as hitting, punching, kicking, pulling hair, twisting limbs, pinching, slapping, biting, etc. There are many other type of abusive behavior which hurt just as much or more than physical abuse. Just because an abuser stops hitting his spouse doesn’t mean he has stopped being abusive.” Brenda Branson
“There is not such thing as only being emotionally abused – I have heard many horrifying stories of physical abuse and the most damaging aspect of the physical abuse is the emotional abuse it causes – when we say “I was only emotionally abused” it is the disease minimizing the trauma we experienced. Emotional abuse is underneath all other types of abuse – the most damaging aspect of physical, sexual, mental, etc. abuse is the trauma to our hearts and souls from being betrayed by the people that we love and trust. The other types of abuse can add more levels to the healing necessary but the bottom line is the emotional abuse and it’s effect on our ability to Love and trust ourselves. In fact, being only emotionally abused can sometimes make it much harder to get in touch with our issues because it isn’t always blatant and obvious. Some of it was very subtle – some of us were abused and shamed by the way they looked at us or said our name or did not see or hear us – on a daily basis.”~Source Unknown
Originally posted on Tony Dye's Point of View:
“If only my request would be granted and God would provide what I hope for: that He would decide to crush me, to unleash His power and cut me off! It would still bring me comfort, and I would leap for joy in unrelenting pain that I have not denied the words of the Holy One.” – Job 6:8-10
It is amazing to me how adventurous and dangerous we become when trials rear their ugly head. Desperation drives us and defines us in the realm of prayer.
Job’s prayer came from the desperation of abandonment. Instead of comfort from a friend, Job received criticism. Nothing hurts like being alone. His cry to God reveals his heart in five requests that he made:
- Consider me! (If only…)
- Crush me! (vs. 9a)
- Cut me! (vs. 9b)
- Comfort me! (vs. 10a)
- Conquer me! (vs. 10b)
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Genesis 42:21, “And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear….”
Joseph’s brothers were guilty of selling Joseph into slavery. They saw their brother’s anguish, they heard his pleas, saw his tears, yet they ignored him.
Is not this same scenario played out repeatedly in our churches today?
An abused woman goes to her Pastor, weeping she tells him that her husband has been abusing her. She relates many incidents to him and asks him for help. He listens with sympathy. He so hates to see unhappy marriages. When she tearfully finishes, he sits back in his chair and offers his take on things. He generally says something along the line of, “Your husband is a good man. He’s been under a lot of stress lately. You, as his wife, must be patient with him. Now, you might have had a rough day or two with him but it’s not really as bad as all that, is it? Anyone can have a bad day now and then. You need to be praying for your husband. Look for ways to make things easier for him. Make sure that being at home is relaxing for him. Now this is what I want you to do: go home, get yourself made up, cook him his favorite dinner and make sure he has a relaxing evening. Tell him you are sorry for not giving him the support he needs. Then I want you to pray and ask the Lord to help you to be a more submissive wife, to make you kinder, more obedient to your husband. Then, whatever anger issues he has, they will get better and better and so will your marriage. Do you understand?”
The abused wife listens in horror as it becomes obvious that her Pastor either doesn’t believe her or that he is going to refuse to help her. She might tearfully protest. She might beg him to listen, to understand, to stand with her and help her protect her children. To do something, anything, to help her escape the endless cycle of abuse. She might hang her head and go home to once again face her husband’s wrath.
Some Pastors might send her away before she can get started, refusing to even listen to her. Some might call her abuser to him know his wife came in for counsel. Some might listen, pat her on the shoulder, tell her it’s not all that bad or that it’s her job to submit and obey no matter what and send her back to be abused some more.
The Pastor is guilty concerning his sister because he sees the anguish in her soul, he hears her desperate pleas, he witnesses her tears yet, just like Joseph’s brothers, he ignores her and sends her away…back to the slavery of domestic abuse.
Joseph’s brothers pronounced themselves guilty “concerning our brother”. Where are the pastors who will search themselves and acknowledge that they are guilty concerning their sisters–sisters who are daily beaten, broken, battered and abused–verbally, emotionally, sexually and physically at the hands of one thought to be “a good man”?
The church is waiting for the answer.
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.
Mary Anne Radmacher
James 1: 27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (ESV)
Each one of us has an incalculable impact on the lives of others. What we say or fail to say, what we do or fail to do, what our lives stand for or what we fail to stand up for, openly displays our convictions for all to see. Daily we prove our devotion to God by our choices: little devotion shows itself in excuses, much devotion shows itself in being obedient to Him even when no one else will be.
Those of us who write about or minister in the area of domestic abuse–especially as it relates to Christians–are often accused of “over-emphasizing it”, “creating problems” or “attacking” other Christians, especially leaders, who have repeatedly refused to address this issue.
Yet, when one out of every three women is affected by abuse during her lifetime, when one out of every four women experiences domestic abuse in her marriage, when a woman is abused every 9 seconds, how can addressing such horrors be over-reacting? The abused and their children are, for all intents and purposes, widows and orphans and we are commanded to care for them.
So, in order to be pleasing to God, we must get the emphasis off of those of us who do write or minister for or to the abused. Our focus should be first and foremost on the glory of Christ but since it is He Who commanded us to care for the widows and orphans, I believe that we are bringing Him glory when we address it. It isn’t the only thing we ought to address but it is definitely one thing that we should. So, then the question should never be “Why does she, why do they, talk so much about abuse?” for that is focusing your attention on frail humans (where it doesn’t belong) rather than on God (where it does). Instead, let’s ask:
“Is ministering to the oppressed mandated in Scripture?”
“Does my theology show itself in my obedience to this mandate? Or, does it show itself in my refusal to obey?”
“Since Jesus said what we do for “the least of these” we are doing to Him, what does my refusal to minister to the abused speak of how I honor and value Christ?”
Be sure of this: the devil is on the side of the abuser; he’s all for abuse maintaining its hold in the church. That should tell us something about where we ought to stand on this issue, don’t you think?
Since one out of every three women is affected by some form of abuse in her lifetime (not necessarily by her husband), it is quite probable that in a church with 30 women, 10 have suffered abuse. In a church with 300 women, approximately 100 of them will have experienced abuse at some point in their life. What if one of them were you? Would you want the leaders to speak up, speak out and defend you? Or would you be content with it continuing to be ignored?
There is a desperate need in the church today for godly men and women to be willing to openly address this issue. To educate themselves on domestic abuse. To be willing to call out the abusers. To minister to the abused. Believe the abused. Most Christians aren’t. Even most Christians in Reformed circles aren’t. By failing to speak out in behalf of the abused, by pretending this isn’t an important issue (or that we are somehow infringing on other’s rights by addressing it), we are speaking very loudly about it. Very loudly, indeed, and our silence is heard in hell.
If we aren’t speaking out against the abusers, we are silently endorsing their sin. If we aren’t ministering to the abused, we are heaping more abuse on them. Worse, when we fail to stand for truth, we ourselves are sinning against a holy God.
The obligation to speak truth lies with each one of us. We’ve been silent far too long. We must teach about abuse and minister to the abused because the abused are important to God. This isn’t an easy issue to address; if you take a stand on it some folks won’t like you. Some already don’t like me for taking such a stand but that’s okay; it’s God Whom I am seeking to honor, not a person. I’m walking into the fray and we invite you to go with me. We might get singed but since many of Jesus’ followers have been burned at the stake, that’s a small price to pay. I pray that many others feel the same.
Have you ever stood against abuse of any kind (abortion, rape date, verbal, emotional, physical…)? What was the response of others?
Abusive husbands (or abusive wives) condition their spouses to accept responsibility for their abuse of them. “If you didn’t do this….” or “If only you didn’t say that….” or “If you hadn’t said it that way. You don’t know how you sounded….” or “It’s your fault for…. You make me so angry.” When the wife (or the husband) “owns up to it” they are “rewarded” with peace for a time (most likely a very short time).
This hard-won “peace” isn’t really peace at all and will go away more rapidly than anyone outside of the abuse could even begin to imagine.
If this describes you and your relationship with your spouse, please understand a few things:
The way he is acting isn’t right. His behavior is sin. He is the one to blame…not you.
God isn’t on the side of your abuser no matter how many times he has told you that He is.
Your abuser may use Scripture to justify their behavior, their abuse of you, but he is twisting it. His interpretation of the verses he uses are false and will not stand up in light of good exegesis (interpretation of the text).
It isn’t your fault your husband verbally, emotionally, financially, sexually or physically abused you. You didn’t make him do it, no matter how many times or ways he tells you that you did. You don’t deserve it no matter how often he tells you that you do.
Your husband has no right to punish you. He has no right to spank you, ground you, hit you, limit your freedom, yell at you, humiliate you.
You are deserving of your husbands love, care and respect.
You are responsible only for your own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, emotions and responses. Your husband is responsible for his.
God’s Word is truth. God’s truth is that what your spouse is doing is wrong.
Your husband will only change when he comes to God in repentance. Nothing outside of God can completely change him or free him from the sinner that he is and the sin that he commits.
God can change you when you come to Him in repentance (for we all are sinners). When He changes you, He will point you in a new, and freeing, direction. He will make you free in Christ.
No matter who you are, you did not ever and will not ever deserve abuse, anger, silence or to be attacked from those who claim to love her.
You can learn to see yourself in a new way. You can have freedom from abuse when you understand that the abuse, no matter what kind or how severe (even if you don’t see it as severe, it is), is sin. He is the one sinning. You are the one being sinned against.
There is help available. Please, please reach for it…today.