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. This is the last excerpt from the “Wife Abuse” key. 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~
I. STEPS TO SOLUTION
“He was generally very loving and easygoing when we first married, and then after a few years, he changed. He got upset over something I thought was trivial and threw me against the wall with his hand around my throat. We got past that, and things were going pretty well until this morning. We were discussing money, and I told him I didn’t feel like talking about it. He flew into a rage, took me by the collar and slammed me against the wall again. It’s as though another person takes over his mind and body. This time I was really scared! I can’t understand how someone can turn so quickly. I have to agree with his way of thinking all the time now in order to avoid this type of reaction from him. I feel so sad and confused. How can I make him see what his temper does?”
“Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; protect me from men of violence.” (Psalm 140:1)
- A. KEY VERSE to Memorize
“A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.”
- B. KEY PASSAGE to Read and Reread
“How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD,
for He has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:1-6)
- C. Correct the Confusion
A wife who sincerely wants to please and obey God can easily become captive to an incorrect understanding of what the Bible says about submission. She becomes vulnerable to accepting abuse and other inappropriate behavior from her husband, all because she has a heart of com- mitment to the Lord. One key to correcting confusion is learning to see Scripture in the light of its context. This is done by:
- Looking at the surrounding verses
- Looking at the purpose of the passage or book in which the verse is found
- Looking at the whole counsel of God’s Word on how we are to relate to one another
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
ARGUMENTS AND ANSWERS
ARGUMENT: WHEN JESUS SAID, “TURN THE OTHER CHEEK,” HE MEANT THAT CHRISTIAN WIVES SHOULD SUBMIT TO ABUSE.
Answer: When you look at the words of Jesus, the context addresses retalia- tion: refuse to retaliate evil for evil. Jesus was not promoting abuse.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:38-39)
The backdrop of “turning the other cheek” was refusing to take revenge rather than advocating abuse.
ARGUMENT: SINCE JESUS SUBMITTED HIMSELF TO ABUSE, IF A WOMAN WANTS TO BE CHRISTLIKE, SHE MUST ALSO SUBMIT TO ABUSE.
Answer: If a woman wants to be Christlike, she will notice that on numerous occasions when Jesus’ enemies meant to harm Him, He escaped His oppressors. Clearly, Jesus did not randomly submit to abuse. However, when the time came to take away the sins of the world, He who was without sin allowed His blood to be the payment price to purchase the forgiveness of our sins.
“Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take His life. . . . Again they tried to seize Him, but He escaped their grasp.” (John 7:1; 10:39)
ARGUMENT: FIRST PETER 2 SAYS WE ARE CALLED TO ENDURE “UNJUST SUFFERING.” THEREFORE, WIVES SHOULD TAKE SUCH SUFFERING AS “COMMENDABLE BEFORE GOD.”
“For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.” (1 Peter 2:19)
Answer: The context of this Scripture indicates suffering “because you are conscious of God,” which means suffering ridicule, criticism and rejection for your faith. At times, we may be called to suffer when God provides no apparent means of escape. However, God does not call believers to a lifestyle of being continually abused. Men who abuse their wives do so because of their own ungodliness. God calls husbands to love their wives and treat them with respect.
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (1 Peter 3:7)
ARGUMENT: AN ABUSED WIFE SHOULD VIEW HER SUFFERING AS THE “CROSS” SHE IS CALLED TO BEAR.
“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Answer: Nowhere does the Bible indicate that the cross is an instrument of physical and emotional pain to be inflicted on a wife. In context, Jesus was saying the cross is a symbol of death—death to self-centered living, a death to self-rule so that the Lord can rule. The following verse further confirms that the cross stands for yielding our lives to the Lord:
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)
ARGUMENT: GOD MADE WOMEN INFERIOR TO MEN, GIVING MEN GREATER SUPERIORITY.
Answer: God made women and men different from one another, with different roles and functions, but nowhere does the Bible say that God regards men as superior and women as inferior.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
ARGUMENT: SINCE EPHESIANS 5:24 SAYS, “WIVES SHOULD SUBMIT TO THEIR HUSBANDS IN EVERYTHING,” A WIFE MUST SUBMIT UNCONDITIONALLY . . . EVEN TO A HUSBAND’S ABUSE.
Answer: A hierarchy of submission is demonstrated when the apostles refused to obey the high priest and continued teaching in the name of Jesus. They committed an egregious and severely punishable offense by directly disobeying the high priest. Likewise, if a wife is expected to do something which God says is wrong, the wife is to obey God and disobey her husband. God clearly stated His position against vio- lence, as well as His position on how husbands are to treat their wives with respect. For a wife to “cooperate” with her husband’s violent behavior by willfully submitting to it and taking no action to prevent it, is for her to actually join with him in sinning against God.
“Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’” (Acts 5:29)
ARGUMENT: A WIFE MUST NOT RESIST THE ABUSE OF HER HUSBAND BECAUSE THE BIBLE SAYS “THE HUSBAND IS THE HEAD OF THE WIFE.”
Answer: A wife is to submit to the headship of her husband, but the Bible nowhere implies she is to submit to the abuse of her husband. She is to respect his position, not succumb to abusive power. In Ephesians 5:23, the husband is likened to Christ and the wife is likened to the church. Christ is described as the head of His church, “His body.” Likewise, no husband, no head abuses his own body—unless he is mentally ill! Instead, he is to protect and provide for his own wife.
“For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. . . . Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.” (Ephesians 5:23, 28-29)
- D. Consider Your Choices
Staying with an abuser while waiting for the next violent episode to occur is not your only option. As with many major decisions in life, there is not just one viable choice. The issue of safety should be paramount, for until a safe haven is found, you cannot think clearly to determine your ultimate course of action. You need to know you have a God who not only watches over you, but One who will guide you in the way you should go.
“You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:7-8)
Deny the situation, minimize the seriousness, or rationalize his abusive behavior—even to the point of blaming yourself. “If I just did everything right, he wouldn’t be this way. It’s all my fault!”
Decide to be a “silent sufferer” and live in a destructive relationship. This is a dangerous choice. To survive, you must do everything possible to avoid contradicting him, so as not to risk a negative reaction.
Marriage in Name Only
Disown your feelings, deny your anger and live emotionally divorced. This choice also leaves you vulnerable to potential danger. Abusive marriages do not remain static. Destructive behavior that remains unchallenged becomes increasingly severe.
Going Around Again
Divorce him and begin looking for another husband to provide the love and support that you need. Unless, however, you gain insight into the reasons for his abusive behavior, and unless you are willing to take steps to protect yourself and your children, the pattern of abuse will continue. More than likely, you would marry another abuser.
Build in Boundaries
Determine to set healthy boundaries for yourself, and tolerate only behavior that is acceptable and nonviolent. Pray for God to give you the wisdom and courage to stand up to the opposition that will definitely come when you establish new standards for the way your husband relates to you.
Depart for a while and force the issue. Seek counseling for yourself, and require your husband to get professional help.
“HOW CAN I KNOW WHETHER MY HUSBAND HAS REALLY CHANGED?”
Habitual patterns of abusive behavior rarely change unless there is intervention or professional guidance. Sometimes a husband becomes so convicted of his self-centered ways that he lets the Lord give him a new heart, new desires and the power to change. If your husband promises he has changed, you need wisdom to discern if the change is only temporary and manipulative . . . or is he taking personal responsibility for his own behavior?
“Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse.” (Proverbs 2:12)
ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS:
❑ Do I no longer have a sense of fear when I am with him?
❑ Has he learned to control his anger without being verbally or emotionally abusive?
❑ Does he respect my right to disagree?
❑ Is he able to express his feelings of anger in a calm, non- threatening way?
❑ Does he communicate feelings other than anger?
❑ Does he no longer blame me for his problems?
❑ Do I feel I am being treated with respect?
❑ Does he show consistent kindness and consideration toward me?
“Husbands . . . be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner
and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life.” (1 Peter 3:7)
- E. BEGIN TO BUILD BOUNDARIES
Begin a new way of thinking about yourself, about God and about abuse.
- God did not save you so that you could be abused.
- Abuse is a sin against God’s creation.
- You were not created to be abused.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able
to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
Overcome fear of the unknown by trusting God for the future.
Memorize: • “I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)
- “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
- “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.” (Psalm 56:3)
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Understand the Biblical mandate to hold abusers accountable.
- Confrontation is Biblical.
- Confrontation can be used by God’s Spirit for conviction.
- Lack of confrontation enables abusers to continue abusing others.
“Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out.” (Psalm 10:15)
Notify others of your needs (supportive friends, relatives or other people).
- They must believe you.
- They must be trustworthy.
- They must not divulge your location to your husband if you leave.
“Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
Develop God’s perspective on submission.
- Submission does not give license for abuse.
- Biblical submission is not a response to be demanded, nor is it given out of fear but out of a heart that can safely trust the other.
- Submission is a way of life designed by God for everyone.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
Admit your anger and practice forgiveness.
- Confirm the hurt.
- Confess your anger.
- Choose to heal.
“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15)
Recognize your own codependent patterns of relating, and change the way you respond.
- Don’t respond fearfully, hiding the truth.
- Don’t think you can change him.
- Don’t take responsibility for his behavior.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?
Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Identify healthy boundaries for yourself, and commit to maintaining them.
- Communicate your boundaries.
- State what you will do if he crosses your boundaries.
- Follow through when he does cross your boundaries.
For example: The next time he abuses you, you will call the police . . . or he can no longer live at home . . . or you will leave with the children.
“A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.”
Ensure your personal safety (and that of your children) immediately.
- Have an action plan.
- Know ahead of time where you will go and whom you will call. Have the necessary numbers easily accessible.
- Involve your church. Know the person to contact for help ahead of time.
“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
See your identity as not in your role as wife, which can change, but as a precious child of God, which cannot change.
- He chose you.
- He adopted you.
- He redeemed you.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” (1 John 3:1)
F. Strategies for Safety
Physically violent incidents can occur at any time. If you have established boundaries or have decided to leave, this time could be particularly dangerous for you. Many abusers tend to be- come enraged when they discover a different dynamic in the relationship. They begin to fear losing control of you and the household. The greatest threat comes when a husband discovers his wife has intentions to leave. A wife who is wise will have prepared for the worst by having a safety plan for leaving.
“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 27:12)
❑ Confide the seriousness of your situation to trustworthy friends or relatives.
❑ Ask if you could stay with them at a moments notice if the need arises.
❑ Accumulate some emergency cash and keep it hidden, or give it to a friend for safekeeping. You may have to put aside jewelry or silver (something your husband would not miss) in order to sell it quickly.
❑ Keep an extra set of car keys hidden.
❑ Store some extra clothing at a friend’s or relative’s house.
❑ Save physical evidence with a trusted friend or in a safety deposit box.
❑ Documentation of physical injuries to you or the children.
❑ Pictures of property such as broken furniture or damaged doors and walls
❑ Keep important papers and documents together in one place and easily accessible.
❑ Family medical records
❑ Bank books
❑ Health insurance papers
❑ Address book
❑ Birth certificates
❑ Sentimental items
❑ Children’s favorite toys
❑ Deeds or other legal records
❑ Create a list of phone numbers you may need for emergencies.
❑ Local emergency number if there is one (Example: 911)
❑ Local police
❑ Battered Women’s Shelter
❑ County Registry of Protective Orders
❑ Salvation Army
❑ Work number
❑ Employer’s or supervisor’s home number
❑ Church number
❑ Minister’s home number
❑ Hotline for domestic violence
“MY FRIEND’S HUSBAND CONTINUES TO BE PHYSICALLY VIOLENT TOWARD HER. OTHER THAN LEAVING WITH THEIR CHILDREN, WHAT RECOURSE DOES SHE HAVE?”
A wife who has been victimized by her husband should not be doubly victimized by having to leave her own home. Since he is the violator, don’t assume that she should be the one to leave. She could first call the District Attorney’s office to inquire about state laws, protective orders and court orders which can force the husband to leave the premises. If you are having difficulty getting information, call a shelter for battered women, a hotline for domestic violence, the Salvation Army, or an attorney who specializes in family law and can provide legal ways to protect this entire family.
“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways.” (Proverbs 14:8)
“WHAT PROTECTION IS AVAILABLE THROUGH THE LEGAL SYSTEM?”
In the absence of a divorce action, a Peace Bond is issued before a Justice of the Peace in a Civil Court. This is the legal instrument mainly used for domestic violence. In a divorce action, the attorney requests a Restraining Order to protect the parties from further harassment and violence. Such an order is issued routinely by a Family Court judge. Suspicion of violence or threats are not enough to warrant the issuance of any order by a judge. There must be documented physical contact through police reports before a judge will consider issuing any order.
“It will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come upon them.” (Proverbs 24:25)
If you live in a place where the legal system does not offer protection against domestic abuse, find help through the church or seek refuge with sympathetic friends or neighbors. God is aware of your situation and He will guide you to a place of safety.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
Biblical Bill of Rights
Surviving an Abusive Marriage
You have the right to receive respect from your mate.
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect.” (1 Peter 3:7)
You have the right to mutual submission.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
You have the right to speak the truth in a loving manner.
“Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)
You have the right to express your anger in appropriate ways.
“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26)
You have the right to spend personal time alone.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
You have the right to use your unique talents and gifts to serve others. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faith- fully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)
You have the right to enjoy freedom from fear.
“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15)
You have the right to seek emotional and spiritual support from others.
“Let us not give up meeting together . . . but let us encourage one another
—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)
You have the right to report abuse to governmental authorities, when necessary.
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men . . . who are sent by Him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” (1 Peter 2:13-14)
You have the right to leave an abusive relationship, when necessary. “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 27:12)
“Is a husband’s ‘headship’ a license for wife abuse? To the contrary, does your head seek to hurt your hand? Does your brain seek to break your bone?
No, your head protects and provides for your body at all costs. Likewise, the husband, as the God-ordained head of the wife, is to protect her from harm, or else he forfeits his right to headship. How significant that Christ, as the Head of the church, not only loved her, but gave Himself up for her!”
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
To order resource books, tapes and additional Biblical Counseling Keys on Victimization, Manipulation, Self-Worth, Identity, Codependency, Adultery, Anger, Unbelieving Mate, Divorce, Worry and other related topics,
contact HOPE FOR THE HEART • P.O. Box 7 • Dallas, TX • 75221 or call toll-free 1-800-488-HOPE (4673).
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I hope this series has been a blessing to you. Hope for the Heart ministries has a whole range of different counseling keys on lots of different and helpful subjects. I suggest you look them up here. The Bible offers hope, life, and light for an often dark and murky world. Read it. I promise it won’t disappoint!
Feel free to share these posts, Part One, Part Two, and this one on facebook, to your own blogs/websites, or wherever you think it may be helpful. Truth is a wonderful thing and I pray it sets you free. 🙂 God bless. Lucy