What is Wife Abuse, and how can I help?

Hi, Lucy here. I obtained permission from June Hunt and the “Hope for the Heart” ministries to share one of their counseling keys that I found ever so useful. I plan on sharing excerpts from the “Wife Abuse” key each week for the next few weeks. Please feel free to share this information. You never know when it might come in handy to help someone else, yourself, or a friend. Who knows, it might even save someone’s life.

~All words below are quoted from the Wife Abuse Counseling Key by June Hunt. Copyright 2001 HOPE FOR THE HEART~

Counselling key pic Wife Abuse copy

Wife Abuse



He was prominent in the community. What woman wouldn’t feel fortunate to be his wife? She certainly had all the finer things in life. And the children . . . didn’t they have the best that money could buy? How could she think about destroying such a picture-perfect family or risk stepping into a future unknown? Where would she go? What could she do? How would she support herself? And even worse, would she lose the children if she began to expose the terrible truth? She felt hopeless. Who would believe her? So skillful at hiding her feelings, as well as the bruises, with swollen, tear- stained eyes, she reasoned . . . It’s mostly my fault anyway!

Even when reason seems skewed, the Psalms offer hope for the afflicted.

“You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them, and You listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed,

in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.”

(Psalm 10:17-18)


Undoubtedly, abusive acts are committed by both husbands and wives. But in the area of domestic violence, statistically, most of the victims are women. Although wife-battering carries a long history of being traditionally and even legally tolerated, abusive behavior has always grieved the heart of God. Consequences of misusing this most sacred of relationships are always painful, but God promises to be close to the victim who suffers at the hands of an abuser.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

A.      What is Abuse?

  • In general, the verb abuse means “to hurt, mistreat, insult or injure.”
  • The words abuse and violence are often used interchangeably, although the word violence implies an escalation of abuse and introduces the ele- ment of fear of harm as a means of control.
  • The Old Testament Hebrew word most often translated as “violence” is chamac, which means “to mistreat.” Chamac is also translated as mali- cious, destroy, wrong, crime, ruthless, plunder and terror.

God’s  judgment  falls  on  anyone  who  is abusive  or  violent  toward  another.

“‘I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,’ says the LORD Almighty.”

(Malachi 2:16)

  • The legal term for physical spousal abuse, child abuse, elder abuse or any other physically abusive relationship within the home or family is Domestic or Family Violence.
  • Abuse . . .

Affects everyone in the family

Bridges all levels in society: racial, religious, geographic and economic

Undermines the value of others

Seeks to dominate

Escalates in intensity and frequency

Spiritual leaders need to be discerning when informed of spousal abuse. Violence of any kind should never be tolerated nor hidden under the cover of “godly sub- mission.” Our Lord calls the church to be a place of refuge . . . a stronghold of support and defense against violence.

“My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation.

He is my stronghold, my refuge and my Savior— from violent men You save me.”

(2 Samuel 22:3)

B.      What Are the Different Types of Abuse?

Abusive behavior can be aggressive or passive, physical or psychological, direct or indirect, but regardless of the method, all abusive behavior comes from the desire to punish, manipulate and control.

“In your heart you devise injustice,

and your hands mete out violence on the earth.” (Psalm 58:2)

Verbal A buse

Verbal abuse is defined as the use of words or tone of voice to control or hurt another person or to destroy self-worth. Verbal abuse can be as dev- astating as physical abuse within a marriage—a destroyer of respect, trust and intimacy. Verbally abusive language is meant to:

  • Intimidate with threats
  • Shame with accusations
  • Belittle with name-calling
  • Confuse with mind games
  • Badger with excessive questioning
  • Deceive with lies
  • Insult with profanity

“His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.”

(Psalm 10:7)

Emotional A buse

While all forms of mistreatment are emotionally abusive, certain behav- iors can be overtly labeled as “emotional abuse.” An emotionally abusive behavior will fit into one of two categories: passive or aggressive.

Passive emotional abuse is characterized by:

  • Withholding emotional support
  • Not giving attention or compliments which are due
  • Using the “silent treatment”
  • Refusing to express true feelings
  • Neglecting important family gatherings
  • Failing to return home at a reasonable time

Aggressive emotional abuse is characterized by:

  • Not allowing spouse to have any part in major decisions
  • Withholding money and access to the checkbook
  • Hiding car keys as a means of control
  • Driving recklessly to instill fear
  • Inflicting sleep deprivation
  • Isolating spouse from family and friends
  • Physically abusing a loved pet

“In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.”

(Psalm 10:2)

Physical Abuse/ Violence

Physical abuse involves any use of size, strength or presence to control or hurt someone. Often beginning with verbal threats of physical harm— “You’ll wish you had never been born.” . . . “You’re going to get it!”— the verbal abuse escalates to physical violence.

Acts of violence include:

  • pushing
  • shoving
  • • slapping
  • kicking
  • pinning down
  • poking
  • choking
  • hair pulling
  • burning
  • binding
  • chaining
  • attacking with an object
  • use of weapons

“Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble.” (Proverbs 24:1-2)

Sexual Abuse/ Violence

Because many believe that a wife is to be submissive to all her husband’s desires, many married women experience sexual abuse without realizing it. Sexual abuse and/or violence includes:

  • Sexually degrading attitudes and treatment
  • Discrimination based on gender
  • Threats or force to get unwanted sex (mate rape)
  • Unjust accusations of extramarital affairs
  • Brazen flirtation with members of the opposite sex
  • Homosexual activities
  • Committing adultery
  • Coercing spouse to perform sexual acts with others

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

(Hebrews 13:4)

  1. C.    What is Misogyny?

Our English word misogyny comes from the Greek misogynia (miso, which means “hatred” and gyn¯e, which means “woman”). Misogyny means “hatred and distrust of women.” The misogy- nist may have experienced emotional or physical harm from a woman during his youth. There- fore, he over-generalizes, thinking all women are the same. His behavior toward women, espe- cially toward his wife, reflects the bitterness and hatred stored within his soul.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” (Matthew 12:35)

The misogynist:

  • Has a gender prejudice against all women
  • Thinks women are weak and despises their weakness
  • Feels both threatened and enraged by tears
  • Acts both lovingly and hatefully toward women
  • Primarily uses mental and emotional abuse to control women

D.      Where is God in All This?

Is God just a bystander in life, passively watching as innocence suffers and wickedness prospers? The Bible says that God is never indifferent! Then where is the Heavenly Father in the midst of injustice? He is where He was when His Son endured violence at the most pivotal point in history . . . the crucifixion. God the Son was on the cross paying the penalty for the sins of the world while God the Father watched—with a broken heart. When the deepest part of your heart cries His name, He will respond with a deep love and compassion like that from none other.

“Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not

willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.” (Lamentations 3:32-33)

God’s Heart on Violence

God hates violence.

“The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence His soul hates.” (Psalm 11:5)

God judges those who are violent.

“God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence.’” (Genesis 6:13)

God is angry with violent behavior.

“Must they also fill the land with violence and continually provoke Me to anger?” (Ezekiel 8:17)

God commands those who are violent to change.

“Give up your violence and oppression and do what is just and right.” (Ezekiel 45:9)


God did not create human beings to be puppets. God does allow all people to choose right from wrong. Don’t blame God for those who choose to do evil. Be assured, God is just . . . and He will punish those who abuse you.

“God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6)

God’s Heart for the Victim

God hears the cry of the battered and abused.

“You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them, and You listen to their cry.” (Psalm 10:17)

God holds the victim of abuse in the palm of His hand.

“I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.” (Isaiah 49:16)

God rescues the victim of abuse and violence.

“He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in His sight.” (Psalm 72:14)

God confirms the victim’s value and worth.

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)

God brings good out of the evil deeds of others.

“The LORD works out everything for His own ends—even the wicked for a day of disaster.” (Proverbs 16:4)

*     *     *

Next week I’ll have a new excerpt from more of this counseling key. Please, feel free to share this post with others. Get the truth out there that abuse is NOT okay. Thank you for reading. God bless.

6 thoughts on “What is Wife Abuse, and how can I help?

  1. I left my first marriage because of “passive” abuse. The hard part was realizing this was true abuse and not something I “deserved.” Had my first husband hit me, I would have been gone because I had the token that proved I didn’t deserve it.
    Thanks for posting.


    1. dingo4mum

      Hi Carol, thank you for sharing. 🙂 Yes, abuse can take many forms and varying degrees of severity. I think passive and emotional abuse are the hardest to identify because there is nothing outward that gives them away. Praying for you. God bless. Lucy


  2. Jackie Butler

    Hi Lucy I’ve just read your latest blog. Congratulations. I hadn’t realised but Pa has most of the passive abuse points and is a definite misogynist. Love you Grandma Hush


  3. Dear Lucy I tried to leave a comment – logged in with password for wordpress and everything and was unable to do it. So I will comment here. This article was fantastic – very moving. I suffered mental abuse by my ex-husband, and currently am being abused – mentally and on one occasion very recently, physically with a weapon. The neighbour, a woman, lives about 8 feet away from me in my ministry of housing units inhabited by people with mental problems and I want to get away from here but can’t afford to, so I am trapped here, vulnerable to her rages and irrationality. She won’t leave me alone and she is ‘in my face’ all the time. I read this article with interest, absorbing it on a more general level as it can apply to abuse by any person. I am eager for ‘episode 2’ next week. It is beautifully written and the scriptures are so encouraging in my hour of need. Thank you for sharing this with us all. Love Madeleine


    1. dingo4mum

      Hi Madeleine, thanks for stopping by. You did post a comments here, so it worked. 🙂 I’m sorry to hear about the situation you are in, please know that I am praying for you. Next week I’ll be posting about the stages of Abuse and its Causes, and then the week after will be the conclusion where we’ll discuss what choices we have, Steps to Solution, and some Biblical answers to common questions surrounding abusive behaviour. I hope you find this useful as I have. 🙂 God bless, Lucy


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