Today we’re going to begin taking a look at types of domestic abuse. Any type of abuse–whether it leaves a mark or not–is still abuse, is still wrong, and in God’s eyes, is still sin.
If you are being abused by your husband, you might not even realize it yet. He will do everything he can to keep the knowledge that he is an abuser away from you. It serves his purposes to do so. If you realized what he is doing, if you knew how much he enjoys controlling, demeaning or hurting you, you might not stand for it and it’d be all over for him. So he whitewashes it. He denies fault. He blames you, his work, his family, his experiences, his boss, his bad day, for his outbursts, his failures, and his cruelties. If only you, they, he, she, it, hadn’t happened, hadn’t said or done that, he wouldn’t have reacted the way he did.
He wants you to believe he’s not abusing you so that’s the narrative he feeds you. He mixes in fun times, good times, happy days, with the cruelties. You want to believe that that guy–the good guy him–is the real him, the real guy you are married to. Anyway, yeah, he might be demanding, harsh, have a short fuse, insist on his own way, be opinionated, brash, or cold but those things don’t necessarily mean he’s abusive–do they? To answer that question, the thing you want to look at is–is there a pattern? Does he believe that you have no rights? Does he elevate himself above you? Does what he wants or needs matter to him more than what you want or need? Does he dominate you? Does he control you? Are you able to be you around him? Are you afraid of him? Do you have to “walk on eggshells” around him?
Anybody can have a bad day and be opinionated, brash, cold, etc., then feel guilty about it and ask forgiveness. Not that we shouldn’t work on such things, we absolutely should–especially if we are a Christian–but failing is a natural part of being human. I’m not in the business of man-bashing. What I’m seeking to do is alert other women to the truth that domestic abuse is all too real, all too common, and not always easy to identify. It took me years of constant put-downs, being harangued, being threatened with “I’m going to punish you” “I’m going to thrash you”, being told that I didn’t have a right to say, do, think or feel anything the things that I said, did, thought or felt, of him driving recklessly when he was angry, punching holes through doors to get to me when I was hiding from him, of calling me all sorts of names, and so much more, to finally realize I–and my children–were living with an abuser. He scared me over and over for so many years. I walked on eggshells constantly with him, but he was also really good at mixing his abusive ways in with gentleness, kindness, and laughter–so I simply didn’t see it.
It took the abuse escalating to a very dangerous level before I identified it. I don’t want that to happen to you.
Today we’ll consider three ways your husband might be abusing you.
Your husband might physically abuse you:
Your abuser abuses you behind closed doors. Where others see a man in control, a happy easy-going man, a friendly helpful man, you know this same man as a man who goes out of his way to harm you. He might drive recklessly with you in the car in order to scare you or as a means of punishing you. He might have hit you and left visible bruises, but he might also have hurt you without leaving bruises or left bruises only in inconspicuous places. He might have tripped you, punched you, hit you, kicked you, shaken you, shoved you, slapped you, spanked you, or whipped you. He might have bitten you, burned you, cut you, or choked you.
He might have threatened you with a knife, a gun, another weapon, or grabbed you or pushed you. He might have forced you against a wall in order to restrain you, to keep you from moving, or to prevent you from getting away from him, or to stop you from leaving the room.
He might have stripped your clothes off. He might have pulled your hair, or twisted your arm behind your back. He might have scratched you, smothered you until you were nearly unconscious, or verbally threatened you with harm. He may have tickled you excessively in order to punish you.
Maybe he knows you have an injury, have had surgery, or that you have a long-term condition such as arthritis, and he uses those things in order to inflict pain or fear. He might grab a hurt arm, bump into you when you are in pain, or force you to serve him or have sex soon after surgery or childbirth. He might do things accidentally that are designed to cause a flare-up of symptoms.
He may have locked you into a room, in a closet, in a work shed, in the garage, or locked you in your house. He might have locked you out of the house. He might refuse to allow you to get enough rest, or refuse to allow you to sleep when you need to.
He might threaten to hurt or actually hurt your pets. He might kick them, throw them, hit them, or in some other way wound them in order to frighten or control you.
He might throw things, punch holes in walls, break things, threaten to destroy something important to you, or in other ways put on a show of force designed to frighten you.
He might have you living in unsafe conditions. He might refuse to let you cool down the house in Summer or heat it up in Winter. He might not allow you to purchase needed prescription medications. He might not allow you to see a doctor or dentist when you need to. He might not provide proper food or enough food for you.
Your partner might be “into” DD or Domestic Discipline. The abuser might “discipline” you for failure to obey, to be submissive or simply because he’s the man and you’re the woman. He might tell you that he’s doing you a favor or is showing love by taking the time to punish you. Often this type of discipline is done through spanking, whippings, writing out, being locked in a room and so on. Sometimes, it strays over into sexual abuse through forcing you to have sexual relations with another man, or through allowing another man to punish you.
Your husband might be a sexual abuser:
Your physical relationship with your husband is supposed to one where sex is utilized as God meant it to be: as a wonderful gift. If your husband is a sexual abuser, he might force you to participate in painful, humiliating, unwanted, or bizarre sexual acts. He might forcefully strip your clothes off as a display of power or as a punishment. He might strip you and say it’s all in fun. He might strip you in front of other people or threaten to do so. He might force you to use the bathroom in front of him.
He might completely control when and if sexual relations take place, refusing intimacy you when you want to be intimate and demanding sex whenever and wherever he wants it.
He might force you to have sex in places where you might be discovered such as in the woods, in the car, in someone’s home, in a public building’s restroom, or where your children might overhear, because it gives him a thrill. He might force, or threaten to force, you to have sex with others. He might insist that you dress in clothes that make you uncomfortable in order to put you on display for his friends.
He might make you perform your chores in the nude, refuse to let you wear under garments, or burn or destroy your clothes so you have nothing to wear. He might lock you in your home while forcing you to be in the nude. He might fantasize about forcing you to be naked in public or actually force you to do so (perhaps by making you undress in the car, or by making you let the dog in while nude). He might force you to undress in the car and walk naked from the car to your house.
He might wake you up to have sex when you’re exhausted or sick. He might intentionally fail to let you get enough sleep by refusing to let you go to sleep at night until you’ve satisfied him. He might have sex with you while you are asleep.
He might force you to view pornography. He might fantasize during sexual relations about other men raping or punishing you. He might fantasize about other women, about having sex with other women, about punishing other women, or compare your body to that of other women during sexual relations. He might make fun of certain aspects of your body, compare your body to other women (often those he’s seen through pornography), make fun of or demean your sexual needs or desires.
He might have had sexual relations with an unsafe partner and knowingly expose you to the possibility of a sexually transmitted disease.
He might withhold sex as punishment. He might hurt you physically during sexual relations through spanking you, hitting you, slapping you, or biting you. He might curse you or call you vulgar names during sex. He might rape you either vaginally, anally, or with an object.
He might physically punish your intimate parts (this can include hitting, squeezing, tying, whipping, biting, spanking, cutting, or pinching your intimate parts, using ice or hot sauce on or in intimate parts, the use of clothes pins, rubber bands, ropes, paddles, whips, chains, etc. in any type of discipline or punishment of any form aimed at intimate parts). He might treat you as a sex object, or tell you your only worth is in pleasing him.
He might demand that “my sexual needs be met” because he’s “a man and I have needs that you don’t understand” even though you are sick, exhausted, you’ve just given birth, had a C-section, are recovering from surgery or from an injury—thus possibly causing you harm or pain.
Your husband might humiliate you as a means of controlling or punishing you:
You abuser might make cruel remarks towards you and then claim that it was a joke, or he might use hostile humor to put you in “your place”.
He might publicly criticize you or make you do things. He might make you do things that are degrading or “punish” you in humiliating ways–such as making you stand in the corner, locking you in a room, or forcing you to write out sentences or passages for punishment. He might make you do things that you don’t want to do, to eat foods you don’t like, or put you in situations that will be highly embarrassing. He might make fun of you or lecture you in front of the children, your family, his family or others. He might make you stand before him not speaking while he lectures you on all you’ve done wrong.
He might make fun of you for your physical appearance, your abilities (or perceived lack thereof), your skills as a mother, your abilities in housekeeping, your cooking abilities, level of knowledge, etc.
He might force you to stand before him, clothed or naked, in order to be “lectured” as to how you are displeasing to him.
He might repeatedly tell you that you aren’t good enough as you are that you must change in order to please him or to be worthy of him. He might tell you that you aren’t as smart as he is, as good-looking as some other woman (or women), that you are not very bright, have no common sense, have no style, no taste, or that you aren’t very educated (even if you are).
He may make fun of the people and things that you love. He may make fun of your heritage, your hometown, of even of the books, music, or movies that you find enjoyable.
He may make you do chores naked. He may make you do some degrading act (such as cleaning the floor on your knees with a toothbrush). He might make you punish yourself by whipping yourself, or by standing in front of him recounting how you have failed him. He may make you confess that you were wrong in some way or about something or that you treated him badly in front of others when, in fact, it isn’t true.
Just writing this out, remembering, makes me sick to my stomach…and it should. Domestic abuse in any form is a corruption of God’s intention for marriage. If you see yourself in the things I’ve written, please get help.
Next time, we’ll look at more types of domestic abuse.
Soli Deo gloria!