I was hoping to never write this, but here we are. Yesterday I packed up all of my belongings and left my home and husband to free myself from the chains of an abusive relationship after being directly threatened that it would get worse. I’m seeking support, going to counseling, and have a place to call home to move into. It’s scary but I am finding strength in starting over from scratch.
I’m done with domestic abuse and violence.
Experiencing abuse instead of affection. Being attacked by anger and aggression. Bad behavior being justified. Being too intimately familiar with fear. Having my own words and God’s word twisted against me. Empty apologies without genuine change. Ignoring and addressing the red flags. Trying to restore a marriage while vows are still being violated. Intentionally being hurt and harmed instead of by accident followed with an apology. My boundaries being broken. Being neglected when I should be nurtured. Being threatened and told ’it’s not a threat it’s a promise’. Carrying shame heavy on my shoulders while he is shameless. Being made to feel small so he can feel big. Losing parts of myself dealing with this. Tired of trying to pray harder and be a better wife. Being dismissed by the church and lacking comfort from the christian community. Going to counseling and talking to couples and seeking help in every way possible. Reading Hope for the Hurting Wife multiple times. Not being properly provided for and blamed as the reason to why that is. The destructiveness of it all exacerbating my intractable chronic migraine and depression. Preaching health and wellness and redemption yet staying in a toxic relationship that lacks all 3. Trying to right the wrongs with grace that’s taken advantage of. Lacking safety and security in my own marriage and home. Dealing with the consequences of destruction. Short-term behavior modification instead of deep soul transformation. Being berated instead of built up. Tolerating being treated like trash and terrorized instead of treasured. Being told I’m too sensitive and need to tough it up. My husband being my worst migraine trigger. Him acting like everything is just dandy and normal immediately after an abusive interaction. The controlling and manipulation tactics. Covering things up and sweeping it under the rug in the name of holy redemption and reconciliation but there is nothing holy without real repentance. Wasting my time and energy trying to change things. Fighting for basic things I shouldn’t have to fight for. The gaslighting. The crazy-making. The constant criticism. The medical neglect and not having my severe medical condition being taken seriously by my own spouse. The dehumanizing disrespect. Holding out hope in him who is a mere human. Being terrified to have a child with him. My needs being treated as not important. Pushing myself so hard to function just to survive him. Being publicly and privately humiliated by him. Being the girl who cried wolf because there really is a wolf. Sinking self-esteem. Turning the other cheek to things that not even Jesus asks me to. Walking on eggshells. Being a heartbroken bride for most of the marriage. My heart being handled carelessly instead of compassionately. Trying to create color in a black and white world. The deep pain, fear, worry, and uncertainty at the thought of staying ’til death do us part. Having the same conversation continually about this. I’m done with domestic abuse and violence.
There were flowers on the coffee table. He says “I love you”. But this isn’t love.
I’m done with domestic abuse and violence. Not only do I not deserve this, but Christ does not condone this and Jesus didn’t die for me to live like this.
Domestic abuse is much more common than we think and no one is exempt from experiencing it. It is damaging, destructive, difficult to deal with, and calls for being confronted. It is especially dangerous when we don’t recognize it as abuse because then we repeat it instead of addressing it with truth and love. Keeping it under the rug makes it the elephant in the room that damages everything in its path whether we want to acknowledge it or not. It can be so hard to spot sometimes but there are warning signs. Domestic abuse is the reason abortion pills almost ended my own life because my mama didn’t want to bring a baby into that world. Domestic abuse in my marriage almost led me to taking my own life because I didn’t think there was a way out, and he encouraged me because ‘no one would care’ (learning to speak truth to lies has been crucial in my healing process). Domestic abuse was normalized in both of our homes growing up and the deeply embedded damage is still taking its toll. Fighting back over the last 4 years has put me in the offender’s seat before and I’m not proud of that. It’s ugly and awful and under no circumstance is abuse justifiable.
The good news? God redeems us and sets us free. There is a future beyond this- this is just the beginning. There is hope for people like me who find themselves in terrible situations for whatever reasons. My story isn’t pretty, and maybe yours isn’t either- but I know this: there is redemption. This will not be a black mark on my life. It is only because of his mercy that we can leave the past in the past and start new and being again with healing hope. If you are in an abusive relationship, make a plan to get out safely and seek support! You are so worthy of good love and should never settle for less.
“When pastors counsel quick reconciliation in marriages ravaged by abuse, the Lord says, “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14, ESV). The primary message an abuser should experience from the minister of Christ is that the eternal wrath of the Lord burns hot against those who heap up violence and oppression. Their abuse has not escaped the watchful eye of the One who declares, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay’ (Rom. 12:19, ESV).” -Chad Ashby in an article at https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/may-web-only/patterson-sbc-divorce-god-hates-abuse.html
“The most unloving thing a pastor could do in a situation of abuse is to dampen the severity of God’s retribution by offering cheap grace. Perhaps God will bring true repentance in the life of an abuser. But it will never happen until he stands condemned in his sin before the burning anger of the eternal Creator. Then and only then is he ready to receive forgiveness at the Cross… The primary message an abused woman should hear from a minister of Christ is that the Lord is the protector of the weak. He is our Boaz, the gentle, kind, and strong Redeemer who spreads his wing of protection over us (Ruth 2:12). Like Naomi spoke to Ruth, the voice of the church should unequivocally call a vulnerable woman to the safety of Jesus Christ: “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted” (Ruth 2:22, ESV). We make that safety tangible by surrounding a victim with advocates, counselors, and resources to help her make the difficult choices that lay ahead”. -Chad Ashby in an article at https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/may-web-only/patterson-sbc-divorce-god-hates-abuse.html
“Paul explains, ‘For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?’ (v. 16). However, it is a disastrous interpretation of this passage to guilt wives into enduring ‘minor non-injurious abuse’ as Patterson terms it, or financial abuse, verbal abuse, or any other kind of abuse as though their husband’s eternal destiny hangs on them being able to stick it out. If God is determined to save a spouse, he is more than capable to accomplish it without the degrading of his beloved daughter”. -Chad Ashby in an article at https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/may-web-only/patterson-sbc-divorce-god-hates-abuse.html
“When a pastor insists that divorce is a nonstarter for Christians, he limits the options of a vulnerable woman in a way neither Jesus nor Paul did. Simply because he wishes every broken marriage would result in reconciliation does not give him the right to strong-arm women, using his spiritual authority effectively to make the decision for her. It is a valiant, humbling display of gospel love when a woman choose to fight for her marriage despite her husband’s sexual immorality, abuse, or abandonment. However, that is a choice she alone must make. And when there are biblical grounds for divorce, it is pastoral malpractice to make a woman feel guilty for choosing to depart a broken marriage covenant. Paul made it abundantly clear: She is not enslaved.” -Chad Ashby in his article at https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/may-web-only/patterson-sbc-divorce-god-hates-abuse.html
“But what constitutes abuse? I would put it this way: Abuse is when a marriage crosses the line from relationship to enslavement. Marriage is meant to reflect Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32). However, when the picture begins to look like Pharaoh and the Israelites, there is a serious problem. A woman beaten, verbally assaulted, cut off from friends, and/or financially isolated is no longer a wife but a slave. Abuse can be hard to discern, which is why pastors absolutely must get other counselors, authorities, and victim’s advocates involved”. -Chad Ashby in his article at https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/may-web-only/patterson-sbc-divorce-god-hates-abuse.html
“Divorce is a painful reality in any circumstances. As Christians, we believe in the power of forgiveness, we believe in the reconciliation found in Christ Jesus, and we have all witnessed the gospel’s power to turn bad marriages around. But ultimately, Christians have to be people who are concerned with saving people even more than they are with saving marriages”. -Chad Ashby in his article at https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/may-web-only/patterson-sbc-divorce-god-hates-abuse.html
“One of the problems when dealing with domestic abuse in a Christian context is, ‘What does the Bible says about divorce for domestic abuse?’ I believe the Bible allows divorce for domestic abuse, and the key text for this is 1 Corinthians 7:15 – But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. For God has called us to peace. This verse has been generally assumed to relate to desertion: when an unbelieving spouse walks out, abandoning a marriage with a Christian spouse, but not legally divorcing them. However, in the Greek text the word ‘depart’ (chorizo) means ‘to place space between, to separate’ and it was one of the standard terms for legal divorce in the first century. Typically, perpetrators of abuse do not walk out of their marriages – they want to stay in the relationship because they enjoy the power, privilege and control they obtain therein. So the victim of abuse thinks this verse does not apply to her. However, when correctly understood, it is the verse which gives her freedom”. -Barbara Roberts on her blog at https://www.restoredrelationships.org/news/2016/01/11/domestic-abuse-divorce/
“What if the abuser is a professing Christian? 1 Corinthians 7:15 only applies to marriages where the opposite spouse is a nonbeliever. An abuser who professes to be a Christian typically resists the call to repentance, either by overtly fighting against having to take responsibility for his abusive behavior, or by counterfeiting repentance to get the admonishers off his back and make them think he is really changing. With counterfeit repentance, the change is only superficial: the abuser has not relinquished his belief that he is entitled to exert power and control over those he chooses to oppress. No-one could be a true Christian and engage in months/years/decades of coercive control and cruelty towards their spouse. Such conduct is anathema to Christ… If someone were a true Christian they would have a tender heart not a stony heart; they would be indwelt by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit would long since have effectively pricked their conscience about such wicked behavior so they would have willingly repented and ceased to behave so wickedly. They might slip into the flesh at times, like we all do; but when they did, they would not fight against admonishment. And they would not the shift the blame to another person, especially not to the person they had hurt!” -Barbara Roberts on her blog at https://www.restoredrelationships.org/news/2016/01/11/domestic-abuse-divorce/
“When it comes to domestic abuse, churches have woefully failed when it comes to applying biblical discipline to the abusers. The concept of biblical discipline has been appallingly neglected and/or inappropriately employed by church leaders. But there is a line in the sand and churches must draw it when it comes to the perpetrator of domestic abuse… It’s not okay for pastors to take a neutral stance vis a vis perpetrator and victim. Neutrality is not neutral. Neutrality effectively means you become an ally of the abuser, because if you take the view that both parties are contributing to the marriage problem, then you’re effectively saying ‘It’s not abuse’ — which serves the agenda of the abuser. When responding to domestic abuse, the proper feeling is outrage, and the only righteous stance is to fully support the victim, while making the perpetrator accountable and putting the counterfeit christian out of the church according to 1 Corinthians 5:9-13. Repentance is not mere words, it should be demonstrated in thoroughly changed attitudes and behavior”. -Barbara Roberts on her blog at https://www.restoredrelationships.org/news/2016/01/11/domestic-abuse-divorce/
“The principles outlined here don’t open the floodgates to all divorce. Allowing divorce for abuse on the principle of constructive desertion under 1 Corinthians 7:15 is not the same as allowing divorce for any disaffection. Because abuse is defined as a pattern of conduct designed to obtain and maintain power and control over the other, my teaching cannot be misconstrued to allow divorce for the catch-all excuse of ‘incompatibility’, or for the occasional instances in non-abusive marriages where one spouse shows a lack of consideration for the other spouse. In all abuse, efforts should be made to bring an abuser to repentance. However, it is important to be aware that most victims of abuse have already made many efforts in this direction before they seek help from a pastor or other professional. Indeed, the victim has usually borne too much for too long and the pattern of abuse has become deeply entrenched” -Barbara Roberts on her blog at https://www.restoredrelationships.org/news/2016/01/11/domestic-abuse-divorce/
Some Scripture for the Soul
“So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth” -Job 5:16
“Suppose a man says to God, ‘I am guilty but will offend no more. Teach me what I cannot see; if I have done wrong, I will not do so again. Should God then reward you on your terms, when you refuse to repent?” – Job 34:31-33
“I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line: hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place. Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the grave will not stand” – Isaiah 28:17-18
“‘Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband- the Lord Almighty is his name- the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit- a wife who married young, only to be rejected, ‘ says your God” – Isaiah 54:4-6
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” – Isaiah 58:6
“You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against you, you were angry. How then can we be saved?” – Isaiah 64:5
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it… For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all those who wait for him!” – Isaiah 30:15, 18
“‘Woe to the obstinate children’, declares the Lord, ‘to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin” -Isaiah 30:1
“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” – Isaiah 1:16-17
“He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord” – Proverbs 17:15
“For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight” -Psalm 72:12-14
“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” – Joshua 1:5
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” -Psalm 147:3
“No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause” – Psalm 25:3
“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible- and everything that is illuminated becomes a light” – Ephesians 5:13
“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you: you are the helper of the fatherless” – Psalm 10:14
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me” – Psalm 18:16-19
Quotes from A Cry for Justice by Jeff Crippen and Anna Wood
“While we are to take care to be separate from the world, striving to remain unstained by wickedness, we dare not be naive about it. And yet we are. Christians, and in particular, conservative, bible-believing Christians who truly desire to live for Christ, easily adopt a magical fantastical worldview in which prayer sprinkles pixie dust and tinsel, removing anything that is ‘yucky’”.
“The abusers we normally deal with operate on a much smaller scale. They terrorize their wives and children, or someone they work with, and very often a pastor or other leader. Added together, these ‘little abusers’ have worked more grief and evil than Hitler ever did… Abuse then, is a mentality of entitlement and superiority in which an abuser uses various tactics to obtain and enforce unjustified power and control over another person. The abuser thinks that he is absolutely justified in using these tactics to maintain this power and control over his victim. Abuse is effected in many ways: both physical (including sexual) and non-physical (verbal). It can be active (physically or verbally) or passive (not speaking, not acting). Abuse, therefore, is not limited to physical assault. Indeed, the non-physical forms of abuse are often far more damaging, deceptive, and cruel”.
“When victims first come to realize what is happening to them has a name, abuse, and what it’s tactics and mentality are, it is like someone is shining a bright light into their darkness… That is what we want to do with the evil of abuse- shine light on it so that its power is no more. The light is the light of Christ’s truth. Therefore, the pulpits of our churches are most appropriate places to expose this darkness. Jesus apparently thought so”.
“The wolf in sheep’s clothing isn’t always one who is seeking to verbally spread false doctrine; often he lives a false doctrine (by not living out the truth of what he claims to believe)”.
“Life as an abuse victim is much like this. As the abuse constantly works to erode his victim’s sense of self: self-confidence, self-esteem, self-care, self-development, the victim’s ability to navigate through life deteriorates. She trusts her perceptions of reality less and less. The confidence she once enjoyed in making decisions diminishes. As she is devalued, she may give less attention to taking care of herself, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. She becomes, in her eyes, less and less of a person and her abuser is quite happy to reinforce this conclusion”.
“When does a sinful human being become an abuser? It happens when who they are is defined by the mentality of abuse: entitlement, power, control and justification, although the particulars of how these elements are expressed can vary widely. A boat is a boat because it possesses certain basic qualities of ‘boat ness’, though boats may come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors. So it with abuse”.
“The church has been failing victims. Pastors and church members, so susceptible to deception because of their abuser’s motives, tactics and mentality, become the evil man’s ally. Christ’s church becomes a place of suffering for the victim. Those who are commissioned by Christ to seek justice end up on the villain’s side”.
“We must cease from using the catch-phrase, ‘God hates divorce’. It is based upon a wrong translation of Malachi 2:16, and does not even appear in numbers of translations, including in the ESV… God hates treachery is more accurate”.
“Christians desperately need to come to a correct biblical theology of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Wrongly handled, these become some of the favorite topics of the abuser’s distortion, permitting him to manipulate his victims with ‘biblical authority’”.
“One of the greatest benefits of knowing Christ is that the Christian is given a new identity. He is made to be a new person, a new creation. In union with Christ, every Christian possesses God’s own name, is adopted by this new Father, is washed clean from the stain of sin, set free from condemnation, given a place in his Father’s house, and much, much more…. These are some of the fundamental reasons that Christ is the remedy for the effects of abuse”.
“Why are victims of all this abuse discounted? Why are they crying ‘Violence!’ Calling for help from their fellow Christians and pastors, but not being heard? That such is the case is indisputable. All one needs to do is talk to the victims and hear their stories…. The wounded come to their church for rescue, and instead of healing medicine, they find that salt is being poured into their wounds. Why?”
“1 Corinthians 7, in conjunction with Exodus 21:10-11, form the case for the abuse victim’s right to separate from and divorce her abuser”.
“Divorce was meant to be my scarlet letter, the badge of shame that would induce me to submit. Instead, I have chosen to wear my divorce now as a badge of honor and courage”.
“Even in heavy offenses and repeated abuse, efforts should be made by the believer to bring the abuser to repentance.. All efforts to urge a perpetrator to repent should be done with humility and a readiness to forgive. However, it is important to be aware that most victims of abuse have already made many efforts in this direction before they seek help from a pastor or other professional. Indeed, the victim has usually borne too much for too long and the pattern of abuse has become deeply entrenched”.
“What about a repentant offender? Doesn’t repentance obligate the victim to reconcile? Let’s define our term: repentance is unconditional acknowledgment by the offender of his crime/sin, confessing guilt without blaming anyone else. True repentance shoulders the entire responsibility for the sin repented of and agrees that the offender is fully deserving of just punishment. Real repentance at least begins to feel the pain and grief caused by the sin and will always evidence a real change in behavior…True repentance is very rare. In fact, it is a gift from God (2 Timothy 2:25). In dealing with abusers, it is very important that we understand what repentance looks like and what it does not look like. Repentance does not use the language of blame or qualification. It does not insist upon conditions. Abusers who tell their victim that they are sorry and that they are changing and if only the victim could do ________, then they could do better, are not repentant. There is no room for excuses in true repentance. Truly repentant people don’t focus on their desire for forgiveness. That’s a continuation of self-centeredness. Instead, they press a genuine willingness to bear and focus on the pain they have caused… Genuine repentance contains no ‘buts’!”.
“Repeating a sin evidences a lack of repentance, making it unwise if not impossible to dismiss consequences and reconcile”.
“There is no place for neutrality in these cases. Neutrality, in fact, takes the side of the abuser. There is nothing neutral about it”.
“…when victims appear to not take this talk of forgiveness and reconciliation very well, they become targets for accusations that they are entertaining bitterness”.
“And yet, unlike every other human contract in life, it seems that this contract can be disregarded the fist day after the honeymoon with full immunity from sanctions (curses) and continued enjoyment of all privileges. Isn’t something really wrong with this picture? A spouse can, for example, never love, never honor, never cherish their wife or husband, and yet we tell the wronged party that there is nothing to be done about it. They are married, the contract is binding, and that is that. Perhaps is there is adultery, then yes, divorce is permitted. Otherwise, the defrauded party is still bound by the contract. What? Say that again?”
“One of the criticisms she suffered from her own church when she finally was able to divorce him, was the charge that it was completely wrong for her to ever reveal these ‘details’. This is nothing less than sheer idolatry and just as evil as the worship of Baal. When an and sin are exalted to such a status, it is no longer Christ who is being worshipped. Carla van Dam does a wonderful job clarifying that it is alright to talk about people in many contexts. In fact, she has learned that is is fundamentally because we don’t communicate our concerns about a potential child molester or abuser that serves the abuser’s cloak of secrecy quite well. Talking with other people is a source of valuable information, and it is not gossip or slander when our motives are not malicious and our purpose is to share important information”.
“Christ cancelled this ‘record of debt’ which kept us under the old tyrant’s power by meeting its holy demands. He ransomed us by dying on the cross, thereby paying the debt the stood against us. And then He made us His bride. A new wedding contract was issued, and it is called the New Covenant…. This is divorce and remarriage. Divorced from our old covenant of death, and re-married to a new marriage of life in Christ. And it is a very, very good thing!”
(Of Matthew 5:21-22): “Insulting, malicious treatment of a person is the spirit of murder. It violates the sixth commandment, even though the victim is still physically alive. Abusers are murderers. Far too often this is true literally, but abuse is always a murder of the victim’s personhood. Like lead poisoning, it gradually and progressively erodes her life”.
“The abuse victim rightly possesses a desire for justice and vindication and rescue. When she calls for help, she does not need to hear us remind her of the love of God, nor about how God works everything together for her good, nor how she needs to forgive and reconcile with an evil man. Rather, she needs to hear that God hates the evil that has been perpetrated against her and how God is ready to rise up and deliver her… She needs to hear her fellow Christians in her church tell her these things, and then hear the them say, ‘We are going to stand with you against this evil as well. We are going to protect and shield you”.
“But reconciliation is not an essential element of forgiveness when we are considering relationships between human beings. Forgiveness can be effected (agreement to not pursue vengeance)without reconciliation. In abuse cases, wisdom does not require nor even advise reconciliation. Although the Christian exercises love and does good to his enemy, enemies are still just that: enemies. The abuse victim, therefore, is not required to reconcile with her abuser. Forgiveness without reconciliation is still forgiveness. Notice that the following Scripture says nothing about trusting an enemy in a relationship: Luke 6:27-28 ‘But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you’. What kind of person is Jesus speaking of? Our enemy. An enemy who hates us. An enemy who curses and abuses us”.
“Indeed, a wife might show respectful and pure conduct by resisting her husband’s disrespectful and impure conduct. A respectful and pure wife might refuse to comply with or enable her husband’s abusive, dishonest or criminal conduct. This will make it harder for him to get away with his sin. A respectful and pure wife might refuse to remain in a situation where she will be exposed to abuse, thus minimizing her husband’s opportunities to sin against her. A respectful and pure wife might disclose and expose her husband’s abusive conduct to those in lawful authority. By doing so she will be helping the State and the Church in their God-ordained task of disciplining the wicked and restraining sin”.
“Closely related to this profound sense of justification for what he does is the abuser’s ability to ever truly be remorseful or sorry. This is still another very, very important fact for us to clearly understand if we are to avoid the abuser’s deceptions. Abusive people mimic repentance and remorse, but it is an act designed to manipulate the victim, or simply the product of a regret that eventually vaporizes without producing real change… An abuser who insists that his victim must forgive him, reconcile with him, and trust him is the person who is in no way repentant, no matter how many ‘I’m sorry’s’ he affixes to such demands. Any supposed repentance that connects itself with insistence that the victim ‘should’ or ‘needs’ to do something so that he can change, is false repentance. Even a hint of blaming or rationalizing is evidence that his repentance is not genuine”.
“We don’t want to believe that abuse happens within our churches. These sacred areas are supposed to be set aside and offered up unto God for His bidding, His doing, His will. He who has called us and set us aside for Himself would surely protect, guide and defense His own, wouldn’t He? How then, are we to believe that, within the very homes that we believe hallowed by Him, abuse often lurks: hungering for violence to body and mind, destroying what ought to be loved and protected, masquerading as peace all the while acting to kill?”
“A marriage can be, and often is, destroyed when one party incurs guilt through the breaking of the marriage vows. The wronged spouse is only acknowledging this when he or she asks the civil authorities to recognize that the marriage contract is null and void. Marriage vows (contracts) can be destroyed by: adultery or desertion. We maintain that biblical desertion is not only effected by literal leaving one’s spouse, but also by abuse. Abuse is desertion because it is a refusal to live with one’s spouse as husband and wife in the context of marriage, as defined by the vows of the marriage covenant. How the marriage contract gets destroyed may have some bearing on whether the marriage can be restored, reconciled and continued without further harm to the wronged party”.
“…denial is a powerful response in us when we are faced with a horrible thing. Denial works to dilute it. To minimize it. Our minds work to suppress the sickening nature of what has been placed in front of us. We make excuses for the perpetrator that tend toward making him less wicked than he really is…. As it is with fear, so it is with denial. Decisions motivated by denial are neither good nor just. Nothing good comes from them. This can be a particularly dangerous trap for abuse victims who have suffered incredible trauma”.
“When we fail to understand a thing, we cannot deal with it properly. Until the gravity and destructiveness of abuse is comprehended, we will tend to minimize it and dismiss it. Add arrogance to the equation and the conspiracy of silence finds even more fertile ground to flourish among us. When we are ignorant of the essence of abuse and its wickedly cunning deceptions, yet tell ourselves that because we are christians and read our bibles we certainly are equipped to handle anything- we add more fertilizer to the soil in which abuse thrives”.
“It seems to be perceived to be shameful to even admit that there is a problem among us (rather than shameful to refuse to confront a problem…which is where the real shame ought to lie”.
“In reality however acknowledging that sin (abuse) can indeed hide and masquerade among us is not a denial of the reality of Christ and His church! It is an affirmation of the very things the Bible tells us about the battle in which every Christian is engaged. When we rally around the abuse victim and confront her abuser, we are being Jesus. When we deny that anything like such an evil could possibly be among us, when we push her away as a leper, we are being… well, let the reader complete the sentence”.
“If a marriage covenant is destroyed (made void) by willful, habitual, unrepentant breaking of the marriage vows, this violation of the vows is what actually causes a marriage to end, and the innocent party may then file for divorce and should not be condemned for doing so. Divorce then is simply a legal declaration that a marriage is over…. What Jesus forbids, in other words, when He says, ‘What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate,’ is the destruction of the marriage by violation of the vows. Instone-Brewer affirms this: Therefore, although the breakup of a marriage is always due to sin, it is not the divorce itself that is the isn; the sin is the breaking of the vows, which causes the divorce”.
“In the case of abuse in marriage, the abuse victim is not the one destroying the marriage when he or she decides the marriage contract has been rendered null and void. That has already been accomplished by the abuser who has refused to love, honor, and cherish as he vowed before God to do. The church continues, in many cases, to do great harm and injustice to abuse victims when we insist that if she filed for divorce, she is actually the one who is effecting the destruction of the marriage and is therefore guilty before God. All the victim is doing is suing for the court to recognize that the marriage contract has been broken”.
“One of the irritants Christians often apply to the abuse victim’s wounds is the assumption that God would have every marriage preserved at all costs. This notion, coupled with the fantasy that ‘with just a little hard work we can put this thing back together,’ has worked to enable hosts of abusers, and to intensify the suffering of their victims”.
“What God desires, in the application of His Law, is mercy. Yes, the Sabbath is to be observed, but it is for man’s sake, so that he might rest and refresh himself and enjoy God. The same is true for marriage. Therefore to insist that an abuse victim remain in her marriage ‘no matter what’ is to do what Jesus forbids: condemnation of the guiltless…When man enslaves people to distortions of things God has instituted for man’s good (like the Sabbath and marriage), Christ would have us set those people free! It was not God’s blessing of the Sabbath that Jesus opposed, but the twisted perversion of it imposed upon by the Jewish leaders. In the same way, it is not the blessing of marriage as created by God for our blessing that we oppose but the wicked, twisted thing it becomes in the hands of evil people…When we speak of ending a relationship that an abuser might call ‘marriage’, it is not marriage that we are ending, but a distorted, evil, enslaving instrument that ceased to be a marriage long ago at the hands of the abuser. The guilt, therefore, for destroying a marriage does not lie with the victim, but with the abuser”.
“Abusers destroy their marriages by trashing the marriage contract which included their promise to love, cherish and protect their partner. An abuser so wounds his victim, so exposes her to hardship and suffering that, despite her best efforts, the marriage bond of love and respect is destroyed…The marriage has been destroyed and all that remains is for the wounded spouse to obtain legal recognition of this fact by obtaining a certificate declaring the marriage to be over”.
“It is characteristic of abusers to push his spouse/victim away while at the same time insisting that the marriage continue. Abusers abuse, and one form of their abuse is to tirelessly work to keep their victim in the marriage and under their domination. With their actions, they refuse to live amicably with their victim, yet claim that they don’t want a divorce. We must see through all of this and recognize that the abuser in no way agrees to live with their spouse in a real marriage: The concept of being pleased and approvingly consenting to living in the marriage must carry the idea of respecting and honoring the believing spouse and the marriage relationship. The persistent perpetrator of abuse is happy to live with his wife, but only because it gives him power over her”.
“We emphasize once more that abuse is a form of desertion. An abuser’s conduct causes his victim to separate from the marriage. The proper legal term for this is ‘constructive desertion’. Constructive desertion occurs when one parter’s evil conduct ends the marriage because it causes the other person to leave. But it is the abuser who is to be construed as the deserter, not the victim. The victim bears no blame”.
“And yet, as it is with the enslavement of abuse, such confession and belief is the only way of deliverance. Christ’s promise is: everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame”.
“I could stop and wallow except for one thing: God’s grace won’t let me. It’s not that I’m better than those who do. It’s that God’s in control. It took me a long, long time to trust Him enough to even begin to understand that He is a good God, He is in control, He does have a plan…even through all the pain. That’s what I want you to know: God is in charge. And He is good. He’s not like your abuser. He won’t lie, break or wound you. He isn’t like the preachers who preach one thing from the pulpit but live quite differently another way everywhere else. He’s not like the ‘good Christian folks’ who refuse to listen, refuse to try to understand but love to gossip and condemn. God doesn’t lie. He doesn’t abuse, misuse or demand things we aren’t capable of performing. God is a good God. God is a very good God. It bears repeating. Over and over and over. God is a wonderfully good God who can be trusted – even if you have never known, or have rarely known, people worthy of your trust. Once you really know Him, you will find Him far, far easier to trust than any person. Go to the pages of scripture. Read how Jesus related to those wounded, broken ones He met along the way. Observe how tender He was, how kind”.