It’s a long scary road for a woman to get to the place where she can admit she is abused. It’s can be an even longer one figuring out what to do next. Should she tell her family? Confide in friends? Disclose it to the church? For many women there is no choice. They will tell no one because they are too afraid of their abuser’s reaction should he find out she’s exposed his abuse or they simply have no one to tell. Others fear the reactions of the ones they might confide in. Sadly those that get up the courage to tell the truth, they often end up having more abuse heaped on them by those they have confided in.
Typical reactions from Christians first learning of a case of domestic abuse often include the following:
“Go home and love that man. If you show him love first, he’ll love you back.”
“Go home and forgive him. Show him that you’ve forgiven him by going out of the way to show him you have. He’ll be so humbled by receiving your forgiveness, he’ll repent.”
“Go home and submit to your husband. Non-submission is the root of your problem. If you weren’t rebellious towards him, your husband wouldn’t feel like he had to show you who’s the boss.”
“Go home and give that man the best sex he’s ever had. He’ll forget about being angry.”
“Go home and pray for your husband and then submit to whatever God sees fit for you to endure.”
Or abused wives are told…
“He’s got anger issues. Pray for him and be patient with him.”
“He’s just stressed. When things get better, he’ll stop.”
“Seek couple’s counseling. Each story has two sides.”
Sorry, folks, but this kind of advice is nothing short of dangerous garbage. If a man is an abuser, he’s an abuser. He doesn’t have anger issues. He isn’t sexually starved. He isn’t wanting more love. He wants to control his wife and nothing short of that will satisfy him.
The church at large, oblivious to the ways of an abuser, is making things worse for abused wives than it already is. By jumping into the discussion without taking the time to figure out what is really going on, church officials, Christian counselors and Christians in general, are creating dangerous conditions for abused women. If a woman comes to you with a story of abuse, the first thing you need to do is believe her; the second thing you need to do for her is pray with her and provide her with safety; the third thing you need to do is brush up on domestic abuse. It’s real. It’s dangerous. And it’s sometimes deadly.
If you don’t understand abuse, get a good book on it and study up. There’s some recommended on this blog and on our other blog, A Cry For Justice @ http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/ . One day you’ll most likely come face to face with an abused woman who is crying out for someone to believe her, for someone to help her. That person just might be you.