At the end of myself…at the feet of Jesus

Matthew 25: 40, And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Believing the Abused: A Clarion Call

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Abused women are just like you: they have the same hopes and dreams, the same feelings, the same ability to love, to hate, to feel happiness and sorrow. Some are rich, others are poor. Many are white, others are black, yellow, brown. Some are older, some younger. Some are married, others single. Some are born and bred country girls, others successful city women. Some work, some are stay-at-home moms.

None of this matters. What does matter is this: Somebody is playing with their lives, taking them down to destruction. Someone, likely a husband or a boyfriend, is treating them with indescribable cruelty.

The difference between you and them is likely as simple as this: you are loved and cherished by your beloved and they aren’t. The fault isn’t theirs. No one deserves to be abused. No one. Just like you, these women once had hope; just like you, they once dreamed of their own “happily ever after” but those dreams are silent now. Instead, the voice of one once trusted now rules their life with fear. A once loved and cherished voice now vilifies and brings condemnation.

The voice of a husband who vowed before God to cherish and protect now coldly controls and strikes fear into her heart: that’s an abused woman’s truth.

Maybe they are raped in their beds. Perhaps called upon to perform acts unspeakable or face punishment if they don’t. Sodomy, painful and vile, can make bedtime a time of nightmares that are real.

For some abused women, bruises, cuts, broken bones are their norm. Some are beaten and left to die. Others only wish for death.

Some live their entire lives in the vale of crushed and broken hearts and minds, constantly failing to measure up to a man’s demands–often a man who wishes to see them fail so he can find yet one more excuse to punish them.

Some of these women do without the things that you consider most important. Many don’t have proper clothing, proper housing, proper food or medical care.

Others are forcibly separated from family and much loved friends.

Yet, no matter how they suffer, no matter what they do without, their own suffering is nothing compared to how they hurt watching their children be abused.

Some of these abused women are sitting in your churches pews every Sunday morning. Others are your neighbor, your grocery clerk, your co-worker.

Abuse is real. It’s ugly. It’s mean and it’s cruel. Abuse kills: Sometimes by blows, often by words so horrible the spirit withers and dies.

I know of abuse: I’ve lived it. I have several friends who have lived it. My mother lived it. Some estimates say one in three women in the world live it.

So why do you choose to ignore it?

Many abused women would leave and flee to safety but they can’t: They have no money, no connections, no one to turn to, often no one who believes them. This is often true even among Christians. Pastors and church folk are notorious for ignoring the obvious, disbelieving the abused woman’s truth and sending her back into the pit with admonitions to “submit more”. Submission in a God-honoring marriage is a wonderful thing; submission in an abusive marriage just leads to more abuse. Don’t believe it if you don’t want to but it’s true–look into the statistics. And, before you discount this, answer this question: Would Jesus have told a woman to go back to her husband just so he could kill her? You might be her only hope–if you are willing to go out on a limb and listen to her story, believe her story and act on that belief. If you are willing to protect her. This isn’t about your views on divorce; this is about her life being in danger.

But will you do that? Will you believe her? It might not be easy. Who really wants to believe that someone we know is abused? Who really wants to believe that some guy we trust beats, sodomizes and verbally abuses his wife? It’s easier to ignore it, to refuse to believe the stories told in hushed tones, to pretend it isn’t happening and go on as if everything is normal. That kind of normal, if it goes on long enough, just might get her killed.

Many women I know presently live with, or have lived with, abusive husbands. You know of some too, you just may not realize it–yet.

But now you’ve been told they are there. Now you’ve been cautioned to look, to listen, to believe. The question now is: What are you going to do with this knowledge? You can turn away and pretend you don’t know; you might be successful at that–but then, what will you tell Jesus on Judgment Day? That you didn’t know it was happening–when you’ve just been told that it is? You might pass off the onus to someone else by saying, “Well, I’d help if needed but I don’t know anybody who is abused”. One out of three women is abused at some point in her life–you know somebody; you just aren’t looking for the signs or you’re not familiar with the signs. You can get familiar; there are books you can read, blogs you can visit, websites you can frequent or you can just open yourself up to listening to the abused woman, to believing her stories of abuse and step out of your comfort zone in order to protect and defend her. You are needed far more than you know.

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Author: annagracewood

Slave of Christ. Reformed Baptist. Mama of many blessings. Homemaker. Homeschooler. Author. Blogger. I write about practical Christian living, womanhood, and domestic violence awareness (with a few other topics thrown in). Passionate about Christ's glory, my children, homemaking, writing, the church, helping those in abusive situations, reading, and animals. Lover of good coffee.

15 thoughts on “Believing the Abused: A Clarion Call

  1. Pingback: Believing the Abused: A Clarion Call by Anna Wood « A Cry For Justice

  2. I’ve been a Christian since I was 7. I was raised in a Christian home and attended Christian schools and college.

    After 10 years in a marriage where I was abused sexually, mentally and emotionally and where my children were abused emotionally, verbally and even physically by my husband, and after more than a year of professional Christian couples, family and individual counseling, I filed for divorce.

    My pastor believed everything I told him about my (now ex) husband. My pastor said after meeting with both of us that my husband had no idea what it meant to be a biblical husband and father. My pastor said that he had no doubt that everything I told him was true and that it was probably worse than I’d told him. My pastor also met with my parents, who attended the same church, were incredibly well respected there, and who verified every thing that I’d said and supported my decision to seek a divorce, 100%.

    Then he said that if I didn’t withdraw my divorce paperwork that the case would be laid before the elders (12 men) in the church who would then determine how best to “discipline” me, because abuse does not qualify as a “biblical” basis for divorce. And he further attempted to control me by insinuating that I was jeopardizing my dad’s chances to become a deacon in his church.

    The church — and pastors — are FAILING. One would think that they might, at some point, stop long enough to consider who’s side they are coming down on when it comes to abuse…

    I left. I will not be part of any organization where women and children are not safe, and I will never stop staying things out loud, ever, ever again.

    Elizabeth Kraus
    http://www.facebook.com/elizabethanddan

    • I am sorry for your pain. You’re right; they were wrong. Not all Pastors are like that, not all elders are either. I am co-writing a book with a Pastor who is passionate about helping, defending and protecting abused women and their children. He even a 21 sermon series about abuse and how the church has long mishandled it. I have a link to his series at the top of this blog. I think, if you listen to it, you will be surprised, amazed and very, very pleased. He is also open to writing to women who have been abused. In fact, that’s how I met him–after listening to his series on abuse. Meanwhile, my prayers are with you.

      • Thanks Anna. One of the most surprising things to me was the fact that even though I was the church pianist, only 2 people (out of a church of hundreds) sought me out to ask why I left. Meanwhile, my abuser continued to attend although was reprimanded on multiple times by pastoral staff for gossiping and slandering me and my parents, as well as sitting and crying and sighing through church services (eventually, he sought a new congregation where his lies could be believed…)

        Since then, he has also been reprimanded by the courts after driving our youngest son (at the time, 12) to the point of suicide through inappropriate and completely unnecessary controlling “discipline” which he had sanctioned for himself — again — by means of the church. After 1 1/2 years in counseling and culminating in the court process, he now has very little ability to hurt our children. 3 different pastors spoke on his behalf in court. None of whom bothered to contact me to find out about the case — and 2 of whom I did know personally.

        Divorced Christian women are abandoned by the church, not the other way around.

        Thankfully, since I have been a Christian for so long, my faith has not been weakened. I am a very fundamental believer with a strong knowledge of scripture. But my relationship with Christ is not dependent on my relationship with the church.

        One of the most painful things for me, though, is this abandonment. Not only because of it’s injustice (injustice is a trigger for me emotionally) and illogic, but also because I’ve been a church pianist and vocalist since I was in elementary school. I worship through music. And I feel like my song has been stolen.

        I realize that it’s up to me to renew, because it’s in my power to let someone steal my song or keep on singing. But it’s how I feel, and I’ve learned to feel what I feel, you know?

        It’s a journey.

        I am thankful because I am strong. I was widowed when I was 22 (melanoma cancer). I have the ability to stand alone (I grew up a Christian in Utah). I have a tremendous support system in the form of truly Godly, prayerful, loving parents, who always made me feel completely loved and accepted. But I know that an awful lot of women don’t have this. A lot of people in abusive relationships don’t have the power to leave. The courage to leave. The means to leave.

        And yet the only way around, is through. People need to say things out loud and as Christians, we all need to be willing to stand up and speak out for those who can’t speak for themselves, whatever the reason.

        I’m in.

        Elizabeth

      • Your story is incredible and very believable. I am so happy to hear that your faith is still strong. Truly God has blessed you. The pastor I spoke of before, Jeff Crippen, sometimes works with me on this blog (though I started this one alone) as well as on A Cry for Justice. He saw your comments and is interested in talking with you if you would be willing. I can give you his e-mail. He is wondering if, perhaps, you might allow him to include aspects of your story in our upcoming book–A Cry For Justice: Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence in its Midst. This is the kind of thing that the church needs to be challenged on. Please let me know. Meanwhile, may God bless and keep you in His abundant love~ Anna

      • Absolutely — he can email me as well, if you’d like to e-introduce us. Thank you for today. Elizabeth

    • Elizabeth – Well, it has become the old, old story in the evangelical church today and we think it is time for Christians who know what is going on to change it! Anna and I receive emails quite regularly from Christian abuse victims who have endured the same injustice in their churches. It is always the same. The victim has to leave her church and the abuser stays. Unbiblical, man-made traditions about divorce, marriage, and re-marriage plague Bible-believing Christians, pastors, and their churches. There are numbers of reasons for this. Perhaps the biggest is that we are ignorant yet arrogant. We hold the Bible, therefore we have all wisdom. At the same time, all we know nothing about abuse. We are duped by the abuser’s charm, sociopathic personality, and deceptive tactics. We have idolized a number of Bible teachers, accepting what they say as God’s Word, when in fact – at least when it comes to abuse – most all of them are totally ignorant. John MacArthur is a prime example. I have respected him very much over the years, but his teaching on what God permits divorce for is enslaving abuse victims. It seems that the more conservative a church is, the more zealous to follow Christ, the greater the danger. We hope that our new book will be published soon (A Cry for Justice) and that the Lord might use it mightily to effect change.

      I think Anna may already have asked you if you would like your story told in our book. The manuscript is still being reviewed, so there would still be time to do so. Let us know if this is something that you would like. We need to get Christians really fired up about what our churches are doing to victims.

      Blessings on you in Christ,
      Jeff

  3. Thank you. My church ex-communicated me and believed everythiig my ex-husband told them. I left both after 25 years of marriage and abuse (physical) on and off!

    • I am sorry to hear of your pain and that your church didn’t believe you. It happens far too often (once is one too many times). The truth must now be told. Thank you for being willing to share a bit of your story. May God bless and keep you. ~ Anna

    • I am sorry to hear of your pain and that your church didn’t believe you. It happens far too often (once is one too many times). The truth must now be told. Thank you for being willing to share a bit of your story. That’s why I maintain this blog and my other blog (co-written with a Pastor with a heart for abused women) on abuse, A Cry For Justice (http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/). This Pastor, Jeff Crippen, is amazing. He is passionate about speaking out about abuse and finding ways to support abused women. He even did a 21 sermon series on abuse–if you are interested in listening to it, you will find a link to it on the top of this blog. My heart goes out to you. I will be praying for you.

  4. Thank you. My church ex-communicated me and believd everythiing my ex-husband told them. I left both after 25 years of marraige and abuse (physical) on and off!

    • I am so sorry to hear of your pain. Sadly your story is the story of many. I pray things are better for you now. Thank you for coming by. God bless you~ Anna

  5. and some of them are men, too.

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