Romans 12: 15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
If a woman comes to you telling nearly unbelievable stories of abuse, it is imperative that you listen to her, believe her and try to find ways to help her. She may never get the chance to share her story again. Many women never find the courage or opportunity to share their stories of abuse at all. Some who do take the chance and tell are doing so under the threat of severe consequences to herself or to her children if her abuser ever found out.
The first thing she needs is to know that you are willing to listen to her. She is afraid, she is hurting, she is fearful. Acknowledge her pain. If need be, give a label to what is happening to her. She may not even realize that what she is experiencing is abuse. [Of course, this requires that WE have taken the time and effort to find out what abuse is so that we are prepared to help. Otherwise we will just be one more Christian who enables the abuser and adds to the victim’s suffering].
As she shares her story, ask her questions: how long has this been happening to her, what is happening, how often has it been happening? Don’t crowd her. Don’t push her. Just try to listen and understand.
Don’t tell her “this is your fault” or say things like “if you’d been more submissive, this wouldn’t be happening”. She’s probably more submissive than most other women in your church. Most abused women are. So telling her to serve her husband better, be more gentle, show him more love, tell him “I love you” or “I respect you” more often, isn’t going to do any good. She’s probably already tried all of these and more. If she were a disgruntled wife these things would be appropriate. In cases of abuse, they’re not. Abusers simply take advantage of their wives (or husbands) who try these things.
Find out what kind of help she needs and see if you can help her to find it. Be discreet. Let her know you will support her in every way that you can (go to the police with her if she needs you to do so, help her find a lawyer if she needs one, help her out with her children, help her out with housework or food, offer transportation, support her financially if she needs it and you can, pray always).
Don’t tell her what to do. Listen and support her but let the end decisions be hers.
Stay in touch with her. Call her. Go by and check on her. Be her friend. Let her know she was wise to try to find help (she needs to know that).
Read God’s Word with her and pray with her. Let her know that abuse is wrong in God’s eyes and that He is the defender of the weak. If she is not a Christian, introduce her to Christ.
In essence, serve her as Jesus would. That’s what we as His servants are called to do.
(RF123 photo Image ID : 11682352)