If a woman is being abused by her husband…

Psalms 11: 5, The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. (ESV)

If a woman is being abused by her husband, the fault isn’t hers. Nothing a wife does or fails to do causes her husband to be abusive towards her. The choice to be abusive is his and his alone. The fault is his alone.

Domestic abuse isn’t caused by lack of submission on the wife’s part, it isn’t about a man’s struggle with anger, and isn’t something that “just happened”. A man isn’t abusive because he isn’t getting enough in the bedroom, because she isn’t trying hard enough to please him, or because she is pushing his buttons. A man who abuses his wife knows what he is doing. He is willful in his control, domination, and mistreatment of her.

Domestic abuse is a long-standing pattern of mistreatment designed to break and control her. Men who abuse their wives often abuse their children, also. A man is abusive because he desires ungodly control over his wife and his children.

 

It’s important to remember that when a woman is abused by her husband, it isn’t because…

  • she didn’t submit enough (most abused women are far more submissive than most women ever have to be)
  • she didn’t obey her husband often enough, or well enough (in the name of obedience, he has likely commanded her to do things that would disgust the rest of us)
  • she hasn’t tried hard enough to take care of the children, prepare good meals, clean her home, manage the money, etc. (she likely walks on eggshells constantly and does everything she can do in order to appease her husband)
  • she didn’t love him enough (the problem is he didn’t love her at all)
  • she was abusive towards him thus causing him to abuse her (some women might respond to his abuse by screaming, calling him names or even becoming violent in an effort to defend herself but that is a response to his abuse rather than the cause of the abuse–not the same thing at all)
  • she didn’t spend enough time in prayer for her husband and for their marriage (a Christian woman who is being abused will pray more not less for her husband and marriage)
  • she didn’t study or understand God’s Word (her husband is probably a master at twisting the Word of God in order to use it against her or to justify his abuse of her)
  • didn’t believe or obey the Word (God and His Word are all that she has to hold onto)

 

If an abused woman gets to the point where she is thinking about separating from her husband, or even divorcing him, after many hours of prayer and many hours of Bible study and more tears than you could ever even begin to imagine, it doesn’t follow that…

  • she never loved him
  • she is a radical feminist
  • she wants to be separated
  • she wants to be divorced
  • she isn’t a godly woman
  • she didn’t work at having a good marriage
  • she didn’t try to be a good wife
  • doesn’t believe the Bible
  • she isn’t a good Christian

 

If you should happen to meet a woman who has been abused by her husband, you will probably think that she is…

  • distant
  • cold
  • self-involved
  • shy

 

You might even think she is…

  • crazy
  • messy
  • sloppy

 

Most likely this is because she is…

  • shattered
  • broken
  • exhausted
  • terrified
  • confused

 

And also because her husband has…

  • continuously controlled her every action
  • caused her to lose herself
  • gaslighted her
  • forced her to walk on eggshells in order to keep from setting him off
  • repeatedly treated her abysmally so that she is unable to think clearly
  • prevented her from taking care of herself or owning nice clothes
  • worked on making others think he is the victim
  • made her life a living nightmare

 

If you have never walked in her steps, if you’ve never heard the words designed to destroy you coming from the mouth of the one who swore before God and others that he would love you forever, and if you’ve never been, figuratively or physically, backed into a corner with absolutely no way out, then you probably have no clue how…

  • betrayed
  • devastated
  • shocked
  • heart-broken
  • distrustful
  • frightened

she is and has been for a long, long, time.

 

If a woman has been beaten down physically or emotionally, seeking help is one of the hardest things she can imagine doing. It’s painful, humiliating, and just plain difficult to open up her life to you, risking ridicule, risking everything–including her life. So if she able to gather enough courage to open up to you about her husband’s abuse…

  • be open to her
  • listen to her
  • ask questions to help her clarify what she has endured
  • tell her God hates what her abuser has done
  • assure her of God’s love and mercy
  • encourage her to protect herself and her children
  • believe her
  • applaud her for her bravery
  • pray for her and with her
  • support her emotionally
  • be a friend to her
  • help her to understand her options
  • don’t push her
  • help her to find the resources she needs
  • find others who are also willing to help her
  • watch her children for a few hours or a few days so that she can handle the things she needs to handle

Remember that, if she has reached out to you for help and you turn her away, she may not ever reach out for help, from anyone, ever again. You may be it.

 

Wife abusers often go on to abuse their children, also. Even if the abuse is only aimed at the wife, her children will still be injured from the fallout. An abused woman’s fear and confusion will be even more evident, more overwhelming, if she has children. You can help her immensely by showing kindness and concern towards her children. She needs you to…

  • remember that by abusing her, her husband made himself an unfit father
  • know that even if they weren’t abused themselves, her children have still lived through unspeakable horrors
  • understand that her children are in pain
  • listen to them
  • let them know that nothing that happened was their fault
  • be gentle with them
  • comfort them
  • model godliness to them
  • pray for them
  • offer them hope in tangible ways
  • do something kind for them
  • do something unexpected and fun with them
  • include them in activities
  • let them know that someone cares for them
  • be careful not to be nosy or ask questions her children aren’t prepared to answer

 

Domestic abuse is far more common than many realize. It happens even in “Christian” families. Just because you see a man at church and think you know him doesn’t mean that you do. An abuser will appear kind and loving in front of others while at home he is terrorizing his wife and children. This man’s wife needs you to know that…

  • her husband is a master of disguise
  • bad men might pretend to be good but a good man won’t pretend to be bad
  • the mask he wears in public is meant to fool you
  • the good man you think you know beats her down with words or fists
  • if he seems sane and she seems crazy, it’s because he’s taking care of himself and his needs while she is doing without and being abused
  • what she tells you about his abuse is only the very tiny tip of the iceberg
  • it’s actually much worse at home than she can stomach saying

 

If a Christian woman comes to you and confides that she is being abused by her husband, please remember that…

  • she has only come forward because she is not sure how much longer she can hold on
  • she is humiliated
  • she is afraid to confide in you
  • she is afraid of her husband finding out that she has confided in you
  • if her abuser finds out she has “told”, he is likely to punish her
  • couples counseling doesn’t work in cases of domestic abuse; it simply puts her at risk so don’t suggest it–ever
  • it is rare that a wife will lie about being abused; if a godly woman says something is going on, something is going on
  • she probably has never confided in anyone about the abuse before
  • if you turn her away, she is not likely to ever confide in anyone else
  • she is terrified that you won’t believe her
  • she’s terrified–period

 

If your church knows of a family where domestic abuse is present, remember that God is against those who would oppress and on the side of those who are being oppressed. Remember, also, that no true Christian will ever be an abuser. A Christian wife who is being abused needs the church to come alongside of her. As members of the congregation are able, consider helping an abused wife and her children in these ways…

  • confront the abuser
  • let the abuser know that you will do whatever it takes to help his family, including keeping them away from him
  • pray for the wife and the children
  • listen to them
  • encourage them
  • find someone who has walked the dark road of abuse to listen to them (It would be best for a man not talk to a woman in private, even in the case of domestic abuse. A woman who is being abused needs a woman to listen to her or at least needs to have a woman present when she talks with an elder, preacher, etc., in order to protect all involved.)
  • help her financially
  • find her a job
  • help her get training so that she can work from her home
  • help her get training to find a job
  • help her find a safe place to stay as she begins her escape (temporarily and/or permanently)
  • provide food, clothing, transportation as needed
  • assist her in decision-making but don’t make decisions for her
  • make yourself available to her as she and her children try to rebuild their lives

 

Remember that she needs godly friends who are willing to…

  • pray with her
  • listen and continue listening
  • tell her it wasn’t her fault
  • believe her
  • not lay blame on her
  • who will not tell her “God hates divorce” while failing to read that verse in context (context is everything)
  • cry with her
  • just be with her
  • protect her and her children
  • defend her and her children
  • get her and her children to safety
  • help her get a restraining order
  • help her find a lawyer
  • go to court with her
  • help her start over
  • stand by them through the many hard times ahead
  • celebrate victories
  • include her and her children in activities (single Moms and their children are often overlooked by couples)
  • give her all of the time she needs to mourn

 

When she has taken the steps to insure their safety, even if that means divorcing her abuser, remember that…

  • she needs assurance that God approves of her protecting herself and her children
  • she needs reassurance that she did the right thing
  • she doesn’t need condemnation (she’s had quite enough of that already)

 

As you walk this road with her, keep in mind that…

  • she won’t trust easily for a long time so be gentle with her and don’t push her
  • her dreams are gone, and she needs help to dream new ones
  • her life is shattered; you can help her to build it again
  • her children need love and guidance; see yourself as part of their healing
  • she herself needs a friend, be one
  • she needs God’s people to continuously bear her family up in prayer

 

There are things that you as a pastor, as a congregation, can do to prepare to help the abused women God might bring to you…

  • pray to develop a heart for the oppressed
  • read what God’s Word says about oppression, memorize it, put it into action
  • keep your church and your sermons Christ-centered
  • read some solid books on domestic abuse (see resources)
  • talk to someone who has been abused, who is willing to open up their lives to you in order to help you to understand it (see my contact info above if you would like to talk to me)
  • have someone knowledgeable about abuse come in and talk with your church about how they can help the abused in their congregation; also you could email or talk via the phone if having them come to your church isn’t an option (see my contact info above if you would like to discuss my coming to talk to you or talking with me via other means or for recommendations for others you might talk with)
  • if there is a godly mature woman in your church who survived domestic abuse, ask her if she is willing to talk to other women who are being abused
  • partner with domestic abuse shelters, get involved in helping them help the abused, get information from them as to how they can help the abused, pass on the information to those who need it
  • set up a safe house for women who are leaving their abusers
  • find families within your congregation who will agree to host a family for a few days or a few weeks until something more permanent can be arranged
  • identify members of your congregation who have skills that they are willing to teach (some women who are married to an abuser were born in abuse and may have never had a chance to learn practical lessons such as cooking, budgeting, organizing, baking, car care, sewing, crafting, etc.)
  • identify members of your congregation who are willing to donate their time and efforts to help women with yard work, car repair, house repair, cleaning, child care and so on
  • love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and your neighbor as yourself (the abused woman sitting in your church is your neighbor–love her as you, in her situation, would want to be loved)
  • do all that you do for God’s glory

May God guide you as you make yourself available to help those who need you so much.

Soli Deo gloria!

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10 thoughts on “If a woman is being abused by her husband…

  1. This is an awesome post. I hope you don’t mind if I repost it next week. Too many just don’t understand what constitutes abuse and the brokenness that results from even the spoken words.

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    1. Dear secretangel,

      I read your book and was blessed by it. Thank you for all that you do to fight against domestic abuse while seeking to glorify God. Feel free to repost the article. Soli Deo gloria!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Anna Grace!! I am so blessed to hear that you read it. I would love to know what you thought about it. You can email me if you like. Thank you so much and God bless you!!

        Like

  2. This needs to be shared! There is a woman in my home church whose ministry is serving women who have escaped lives of abuse…Christian women who tried selflessly to keep a marriage together with an abuser. The suffering is done in silence, and the recovery period is long. I am so very thankful to have found support within the church.

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    1. Thank you for taking time to comment. What you said is so true. I’m happy to hear that there is someone in your church who ministers to abused women. I pray that God raises more women up who will do the same. Soli Deo gloria!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that every church worth it’s salt should have a plan in place – too many elders throw the book at terrified wives, and send the back into the arms of the man who will continue to abuse them – and possibly kill them. Elders should be educated as to the cost, if they are partnered with a shelter, great, if not – they should make arrangements to create a safe space. They shouldn’t throw the bible at women and call it good enough, rather they should permit a time of separation and help support her. They should not emphasize a particular end goal, a wife has the right to make her own decision about whether or not her husband deserve a second (third, twentieth) chance or if he’s just not safe to raise children around.
    What scares me most is that power corrupts, headship teachings give men power they don’t need to control women, to override their decisions, to read her e-mails, and do whatever he wants as head of the household. Women need to be raised up to level of co-head of household and limits – checks and balances must be placed on men, particularly those prone to corruption and likely to abuse women.

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    1. Headship teachings aren’t the problem. A corruption of headship teaching is a major problem and does give men with the inclination to abuse more power and ability to do so. Yes, the church should have a plan in place to help abused women. That is one thing I’m working towards. So many churches have yet to realize the magnitude of the problem. I agree wholeheartedly with what you said about offering support to her, encouraging her to make her own decision about leaving or staying. Most abusive men don’t deserve even a second chance, let alone a fifth or thirtieth. Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to comment. Soli Deo gloria!

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