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Family Violence

Again, I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun; I saw tears of the oppressed and they have no comforter, power was on the side of the oppressors and they have no comforter. (Ecclesiastes 4:1)

 

 

More than 50% of all women will experience violence from intimate partners. Wife beating results in more injuries requiring medical treatment than rape, auto accidents, and muggings combined.

 

A frightening 30% of all women murdered in the US are murdered by their husbands, ex-husbands or boyfriends. 50% of the men who frequently assault their wives also frequently abuse their children.

 

Men who have witnessed their parents domestic violence are three times more likely to abuse their own wives.

 

Children who witness violence at home display emotional and behavioral disturbances such as withdrawal, low self-esteem, nightmares, self-blame and aggression against peers, family members and property. Over 3 million children are at risk of exposure to parental violence each year. In the time it takes to read this article, four women will be beaten and 6 children will be abused.

 

These are all frightening statistics. And like most of you I believe at some point we must begin to take control of our country and our lives again. The mission of Glory to Jesus Christian Digest is to address the issues that we as a people face today with Gods Word. Gods plan is that we prosper and be in good health, spiritually and physically. This should be the mission of the church as well, to view human beings as a whole package just as God does, not only spiritual but also physical. The crisis of family violence affects people physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Each of these dimensions must be addressed for the victim and those who abuse them by the church, the legal system and families and friends. The more you know about domestic violence, the more effective you can be in helping to stop it.

 

Where does domestic violence come from? Since the beginning of mankind Satan has focused much his attention on the destruction of the family institution. One reason being is that marriage is the domain God instituted in the very beginning after the creation of Adam and Eve, (Genesis 2:24). True Marriage is Divine, Holy and Pure (Hebrew 13:4). It was instituted and sanctified (set apart) by God. Upon this institution, God stamped His Name and excellence making it a glorious and honorable state under the stewardship of His church (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:22-33). This is the reason Satan is always trying to destroy the true marriage and the true family, because it belongs to God. The mission of Satan is to divide and conquer. If the family breaks down it cannot produce the good fruit that God intended for it to produce, good families, good churches, good communities, good schools and so on.

 

How did it infiltrate our society? I can sum up the family problem in four words: Disobedience to Gods Word. Disobedience to Gods Word is the cause and family violence is one of the effects. I am placing my emphasis on the Word of God and if you miss what God has said about marriage and the family, you will miss the whole revelation. There is a war going on in the home over authority. The authority in the family is already set up by God, and is unchangeable; and anybody who goes against the authority of God is fighting God and does not know it.

 

You see, it was Satan who first went against Gods authority. Satan has husbands; wives and children, in these last days, fighting over Gods Dominion Power. He is always trying to lead Gods people away from Gods Word. One of the effects of disobedience comes from the idea that some people are valued more than others. Take for example, the attitude that men are more valued than women, adults more valued than children. This attitude has been around for thousands of years. What we have received from culture, family education, government, society, religion or the church has made us inherit a world that is violent in every aspect. We have forgotten that God commands us to love one another as we love our own bodies. God is love and wants those of us that believe in Him to base our relationships on love. Gods Word gives us a vision of a justice that is life-giving, that enables restoration, that is based on forgiveness, reconciliation and renewal of right relationships. By getting to know the One who is Love and allowing Him to renew our mindset we can achieve all that God has for us.

 

Historically, violence in the home has been overlooked because domestic situations were considered private. Friends, coworkers, and even relatives may never witness or suspect violence between partners because it happens in the privacy of the home. Some men and women have the mindset that the female is inferior to the male and that he has supreme rule over her. That is not what the word of God says. The Word of God says For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:27-28)

 

Some religious people would like to believe that sexual and domestic violence occurs only in the lives of others. However, victims and perpetrators of domestic violence often worship side by side in our synagogues, temples and churches. Domestic violence is occurring at an appalling rate between people of every faith community, religion, race and ethnicity, age, socioeconomic situation and educational level, among all life-styles, and in every region and part of the US, whether urban, suburban, or rural.

 

Sexual abuse and domestic violence are wrong. Sexual abuse and domestic violence is a crime. It is a sin against another human being and it is a sin against God. No religious tradition that I am aware of condones violence or abuse of another human being. If it is Gods will for women to have an abundant life that is free from bodily harm, and that those who abuse them should be held accountable, then we must educate ourselves about issues of violence against women and children and design programs that try to reduce, if not totally eradicate this form of violence. It is critical that the church address issues such as family violence. There are people hurting, they need to know that they can come to their spiritual leaders or spiritual community for support and information, and when they come, they need to find spiritual leaders that are prepared to assist them.

 

Too often spiritual leaders are silent and lack the courage to do all we can do to prevent violence against women and children or just simply misinterpret Gods Word. Rather than offering resources and alternatives to battered women such leaders have often advised women to return to violent homes and be better wives. As a result Christian women often feel abandoned by God and compelled to stay in abusive relationships by misinterpretation of scripture mandating them to submit to their husbands or turn the other cheek. Jewish women may feel pressured not to bring shame to their community by revealing the abuse in their marriage, or that it is their responsibility to maintain shalom bayit, or peace in the home.

 

In dealing with family violence certain needs and issues tend to be overlooked because of a serious lack of understanding of the nature of family violence and its impact on peoples lives. When confronted with a personal experience of family violence, like any other crisis, most people also experience a crisis of meaning in their lives. Questions like, why is this happening; why did God let this happen or what meaning does this have for my life are all healthy signs of an effort to comprehend and put into context the experience of family violence and help the person regain some control over their lives in the midst of crisis.

 

What is family violence? Family violence is any physical or emotional act committed by one person to exercise power and control over another person within a family type environment. This includes any offensive and harmful touching as well as any verbal threats to do harm. There are several types of abuse such as verbal abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. Some may want to place verbal abuse at the bottom of the list and place physical abuse at the top. That is not a realistic way to view family violence because it minimizes certain types of abuse. For example, you may think that being called a vulgar name is not as bad as being hit or that being called a vulgar name does not constitute an act of domestic violence, but the Bible tells us differently.

 

Verbal Abuse. Verbal and emotional abuse has been going on since the beginning of mans presence on earth. Indeed, God Himself warns us about our tongues throughout the Bible. He says: Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:5-8).

 

The most interesting point in these verses is that God is acknowledging the serious damage that can occur from one small spark. In and of itself verbal abuse does not seem that bad, but slowly and over time, it chips away at the victims self-esteem and is a slow and methodical killing of the spirit. The verbal abuser puts down the victim, calls them names, uses a loud voice and screams to intimidate the victim and uses foul language. Imagine being told you are fat day after day; lose weight, you make me sick, all you do is eat. Or how about, you are so dumb you would forget your head if it was not attached. Even if said jokingly, these kinds of statements hurt. They are words that devastate the human spirit. And God knows that.

 

Emotional abuse and psychological abuse. Although the signs of emotional and psychological abuse are very difficult to see, this abuse can be far more damaging and devastating to the victim. Emotional and psychological abuse can control the decisions of the victim long after the abuser is out of the picture. Without counseling and healing the victim may never recover from this form of abuse.

 

Evident in a number of types of behaviors, including intimidation, coercion and threats this abuser might threaten to physically hurt the victim, threaten to leave or take away the children, threaten to report the victim to different authorities, threaten to take or break the victims belongings, threaten to commit suicide or cut off finances. He might hurt or kill pets or even hurt himself. He displays weapons or makes the victim do illegal things. This type abuser also isolates the victim and controls what the victim does, who the victim sees and talks to. He controls what the victim watches and reads, where the victim goes. He controls the victims outside involvement and calls home throughout the day to make sure the victim has not left the house. This abuser treats the victim like a servant and makes all the big decisions. He defines the role of the wife and husband, acts like the master of the castle.

 

Whether its being called a name, being referred to in a derogatory manner, or being constantly accused of doing something that you have not done, these behaviors are destructive. They leave bruises that require a lot more healing than bruises of a physical nature. They penetrate our hearts and scar our souls. If you live with this behavior, know that God sees and hears, and Jesus weeps over your pain. If you do not live with this type of behavior from someone you love, pray and ask God to give you compassion and understanding for those who do. Imagine what it is like, and next time someone shares with you about the pain of being treated so harshly by someone they love, do not treat them like their partner does, but treat them as Jesus would. Say to them what you think Jesus would say. 

 

Financial abuse. Financial abuse is making, or attempting to make, a person financially dependent. This abuser does this by keeping control of the money and making the victim ask for money. He may give the victim an allowance and then monitor the spending. This abuser may not let the victim know about or have access to the family money.

 

He may keep the victim from getting or keeping a job by calling the workplace through the day to get the victim in trouble at work; he will come to the workplace to get the victim into trouble. This abuser causes the victim to miss work by refusing to let the victim leave the house, or the abuser has left bruises and the victim is too embarrassed to go to work. He will withhold transportation.

 

Physical Abuse. Physical abuse is also mentioned in the Bible. The Book of Malachi, Chapter 2, verse 13 speaks on marriage and divorce. I hate divorce, says the Lord God of Israel, and I hate a mans covering himself with violence as well as with his garment, says the Lord Almighty (Malachi 2:16)

 

Malachi 2:16 does say that God hates divorce, but most readers stop right there. But the verse actually says for the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of Hosts: there take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. The garment the Lord is talking about here is the wife. The amplified says it like this: For the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I hate divorce and marital separation, and him who covers his garment (his wife) with violence. The Word of God not only tells us that God hates divorce, but He also hates a man (or woman) who covers his or her mate with violence and then tries to conceal it. I like the way Matthew Henry sums it up, he says: In all this they covered violence with their garment; they abused their wives, and were vexatious to them, and yet, in the sight of others, they pretended to be very loving to them and tender of them, and to cast a skirt over them. It is common for those who do violence to advance some specious pretence or other wherewith to cover it as with a garment. Interesting interpretation huh?

 

So, what Matthew Henry is implying is that our covering ourselves, as Adam and Eve first did in Eden, is detestable to God, whether it is our flesh or our sins we are trying to cover. And, when God said I hate a mans covering himself with violence as well as with his garment, He literally meant that. But, the entire point to be made in regards to this Scripture is that violence between a man and his wife is nothing new. That, too, has been going on for centuries. And God specifically says He hates it.

 

The more obvious forms of physical abuse come in the form of making threats to hurt someone, displaying a weapon, and actually making physical contact. Physical abuse is frightening, but even threatening to hurt someone may invoke fear. Some abusers make threats towards their partners in a joking manner. Violence is never anything to joke about. And some abusers arent joking, but make good on their threats.

 

Sexual Abuse. Sexual abuse is one of the most misunderstood forms of family abuse. This is mainly due to the idea that women are property; that once she is married she is owned and ruled and a man cannot rape his wife. Indeed, rape itself is nothing new. Just like all other forms of abuse, we read about sexual abuse in the Bible. The first record of rape is that of Dinah in Genesis Chapter 34. The Bible tells us that while Dinah was visiting the land she and her family had just come to, Shechem, Hamors son saw Dinah and took her and violated her. The Bibles tells us that his heart was then drawn to her and he then asked his father to talk to Dinahs father Jacob about marrying his daughter. The Israelites did not believe in pre-marital sex and were filled with grief and fury over this matter. Dinahs brothers tricked Shechem and his father into being circumcised in order to marry Dinah. Shechem and his father then went before all the men of their town and talked them into being circumcised  and three days later Jacobs sons went in killed all the men in the city.

Another Biblical account of sexual abuse is found in 2 Samuel 13:12. This is an incestuous rape. We also read about the violent rape of the Levites concubine in Judges 19:25 and 20:5. She died from this attack. There are several other places within the Bible where we read about the sexual promiscuity and immorality of mankind.

 

Another grossly misunderstood verse is 1 Corinthians 7:4 where God says: The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husbands’ body does not belong to him alone but to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer Some read this and say to their spouse the Bible says, your body is mine to do what with it what I want, and you have to do what it says. Some abusers use this verse as a form of guilt. You know the old argument if you wont do it, Ill find someone who will. Perhaps someone has said that to you or maybe youve said it yourself. But when we read the entire Chapter, it is clear that Paul is saying not to sexually deprive each other because it can lead to the temptation to commit adultery because of our lack of self-control. Notice Paul also says in verse 6: I say this as a concession, not as a command (1 Corinthians 7:6). Making your spouse feel guilty about not wanting to participate in a particular sexual act, or not wanting to have sex in general is emotional manipulation. It is sexual abuse. It is wrong. A mutual sexual experience between a husband and wife is a blessing. An unwanted, unsolicited sexual confrontation is a violation.

 

Why Do Women Stay in Abusive Relationships?  One of the major reasons women remain in abusive relationships is fear of further retaliation by the abuser. Research reveals that when a woman attempts to separate herself from her abuser she is at the most danger for physical violence.  A strong belief in the permanency of the marriage vows may also prevent an abused spouse from considering separation or divorce as an alternative for dealing with family violence. The promise of faithfulness for better or for worse... til death do us part is taken to mean stay in the marriage no matter what, even though death of one or more family members is a real possibility in abusive families.

 

A strong doctrinal position or personal belief against divorce may restrain some from exercising divorce or separation as a  means of dealing with family violence. In either case, there is a common assumption that any marriage is better than no marriage at all and should be maintained at any cost. It is common knowledge that adultery violates the marriage covenant and results in brokenness in the relationship, but violence or abuse in a marriage violates the covenant and fractures a relationship as well. In both cases the trust, which was assumed between partners, is shattered. Neither partner should be expected to remain in an abusive situation. Often, one marriage partner feels a heavy obligation to remain in the relationship and does everything possible to make it work. This is most often true for women. A covenant relationship only works if both partners are able and willing to work on it. God does not expect anyone to stay in a situation that is abusive. Just as Jesus did not expect his disciples to remain in a village that did not respect and care for them (Luke 9:1-6), neither does He expect persons to remain in a family relationship where they are abused and violated.

 

In violent homes, divorce is not breaking up families, violence and abuse is. Divorce is often the painful, public acknowledgment of an already accomplished fact. While divorce is never easy, it is, in the case of family violence, the lesser evil. In many cases divorce may be a necessary intervention to generate healing and new life from a devastating and deadly situation.

 

Remember God has a plan for your life and it is that you have life and have life more abundantly. It is not His intention that you remain in an abusive situation.

 

There is no excuse for abuse.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence GET Help

 

For emergency help:

Call 911 if you are in immediate danger of domestic violence or have already been hurt.

 

For advice and support:

Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).

Additional contacts for the National Domestic Violence Hotline:
Help via email: ndvh@ndvh.org

For the hearing-impaired: 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

For the deaf: deafhelp@ndvh.org

 

For a safe place to stay:

Call your state’s branch of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence if you need a shelter from domestic violence. To find your state’s hotline number, go to the State Coalition List.

 

Child Abuse:

To report abuse, call the National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

If the abuse is a life-threatening emergency, call 911.