It has come to my attention that a lot of people don’t really know the definition of Domestic abuse, abuse, or domestic violence. Some think that we are all abusive at one time or another so it isn’t a big deal. Others think only of physical violence. Still more have absolutely no idea and are left to the wind trying to figure out what defines abuse, or they just don’t spend any time thinking about it at all.
Abuse, according the www.justice.gov:
… is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. -Justice.gov
In other words, it is behaviors that are ongoing, repeated, meant to maintain power and control over another person, and keep that power one-sided in the relationship. It includes all sorts of techniques, manipulations and mind games. It is a sin and it is a crime.
Many Christians think the Bible doesn’t address domestic abuse, except maybe physical abuse. This saddens me. When I read the Bible, I see so many places that God directly addresses abuse and abusive attitudes. I am not sure how Christians miss this theme. It is everywhere in the scriptures.
2 Timothy 3:1-8 ESV
…For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
That certainly characterizes abusive people, doesn’t it, and these are just two of the many Scriptures that talk about abusive behaviors.
An abusive person continuously cuts away at their victims self esteem, belief system and life style until the victim can barely think for themselves. (see My Recovery from You…Domestic Abuse Awareness Month #1) They will use all forms of verbal abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, physical abuse and spiritual abuse in order to dominate the relationship. (I will cover the types of abuses in future posts)
The pivotal thing about abuse is that it is not just an issue of an unhealthy marriage, although it certainly is unhealthy, it is a bigger issue stemming from the deep rooted conviction (sinful belief) that the abuser holds about who they are and what they are entitled to. They believe they deserve to have whatever they want, however they can get it. Unfortunately, a person who is determined to control and have power over a partner rarely changes. Their drive for dominance is a character issue that is continuous and ongoing. It is unfortunate that a very low percentage of abusers ever find true repentance and change, even though God is always willing to help those who repent from their abusive ways and ask Him to change their character. For those who do choose to change it takes on average 6 years to relearn their core beliefs. (Why does He do That? Inside the minds of angry and controlling men. Lundy Bancroft)
Domestic Abuse is never acceptable in the sight of God and should never be acceptable to any Bible believing Christian. As a church we cannot keep hiding our heads in the proverbial sand and not deal with this epidemic. Domestic abuse happens to 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men across the USA, yes, even in your church. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)