What is black and blue and red all over?
No. It's not the local tabloid. It's domestic violence, and it's happening in a home near you.
Maybe it's your home.
If it is, you're not alone.
And it's not your fault.
No matter what he says or how he makes you feel. It's not your fault.
Perhaps you're questioning if this is happening to you now.
As you ponder the words domestic violence, you think of those NBC Dateline segments and conclude your boyfriend isn't that bad. You think of Jennifer Lopez in Enough and decide your husband isn't that dangerous.
But is he?
All too often we see the headlines:
Boyfriend Attacks Ex at Workplace
Local Man Accused of Shooting His Wife
Legislator Indicted on Domestic Violence Charges
Woman Killed With Kids Called 911 as Ex-Boyfriend Broke In
I know what you're thinking:
· That's not me.
· That'll never happen to me.
· I'm smarter than that.
· I'd never stay in an abusive relationship.
I thought these things too.
Ignoring or denying the behavior--assault, control, manipulation, intimidation--doesn't ease the impact on your heart, mind, body, and spirit.
And protecting him, shielding him from the consequences of his own actions, only creates more time and space for the torment to continue. It may even intensify.
- If he threatens to hit you, it's intimidation.
- If he uses his fist or a weapon to strike you, it's assault.
- If what he asks of you is morally and spiritually corrupt, it's manipulation.
- If he tracks your every move and questions every motive, it's control.
Admitting is the hardest part.
It’s also the first step in finding hope.
The ironic part of the story may be that you once sat side by side in church praising the Lord of all creation. The miraculous conclusion, however, could be that the same Lord of all creation frees and redeems you.
Let go of the lies
Satan will use every device, every trick, every lie to hold you hostage.
- Just as soon as you get the courage to speak up, he makes you question the severity or reality of the abuse.
- He whispers in your ear that you're crazy.
- He convinces you that you somehow provoked it.
- He says no one will believe you.
- He isolates you from others. Keeps you from close friends and family. Because surely you don't want anyone to know. Right?
- And if you have left the relationship, escaped further cruelty, he makes you feel tainted. Damaged. Like no one will want you now.
- And just as you heal from the wounds, he at times hints at the shame and guilt you carry inside.
Lies. All lies. Remember that.
Hold on to the truth
You can combat these lies with the most powerful, proven weapon of all--The Bible!
Our God is mightier than hands that hit.
But God himself will shoot them with his arrows, suddenly striking them down. (Psalm64)
Our God shines brighter than any act committed in the dark.
They think, "God will never call us to account." But you see the trouble and grief they cause. You take note of it and punish them. (Psalm 10)
Our God redeems and restores.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praises instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. (Isaiah 61:3)
Our God delivers justice with his right hand.
Wake up, my God, and bring justice...God is an honest judge. (Psalm 7)
Take the next step
You might feel obligated to stay in the relationship, even rationalized all the reasons why.
Maybe you're married. He's disabled. He depends on you financially. You're all he has. He says he's sorry.
While these seem like sound reasons in your head, the effects of abuse can reach farther than you'd imagine. Your patience, your work ethic, your parenting, your mental and physical wellness--all possibly compromised.
At the very least, it's worth speaking up.
You might feel like you're betraying him. You may feel uneasy when you hear the words come out of your mouth. You may even stumble to find the right words. It will likely terrify you.
But what if it saves your life? Your child's life? It could be the one move you make that changes all of your days.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Power. Love. Self-discipline. God's provision for your situation.
Whenyou do decide to tell someone, be mindful of a few things:
Seek Godly counsel
Confide in someone who is rooted in Christ, wise in scripture, and has a solid, steady prayer life.
Find a woman in your church
One who has walked with God for years, whose life is an example of obedience, patience, and forgiveness.
If you don't have a church home, call an abuse hotline.
Embrace Biblical truth
Pray for courage and the spirit to let go of anger, bitterness, and resentment.
Avoid worldly perspectives
Your friends and co-workers may insist that demands, retaliation, and ultimatums are the way to go. They're not. And your feelings are likely to lead you astray, keep you in place, or in a state of hopelessness.
You can do this! Choose courage. Choose to be a witness of God's great work