By Jen Grice, Crosswalk.com
Abuse or being abusive might seem like harsh words. No one wants to have to admit they’re living in an abusive home or being an abusive person. But when sin entered the world, so did abuse. We, as selfish, sinful humans, will manipulate and abuse other people to get our way. No one is immune to the virus of abuse. It’s only through the Holy Spirit and our growth as Christians that we accept the amazing gifts of the fruits of the Spirit. It’s through God’s love that we are able to love one another.
But until that time, when all the world hears, there will be abuse. According to lexico.com, abuse is defined as to “use or treat in such a way as to cause damage or harm; to treat (a person or an animal) with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly; speak in an insulting and offensive way to or about (someone).”
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<strong>What does the Bible Say about Abuse and Abusive Homes?</strong>
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21 NIV)
“Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken. Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended. Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.” (Proverbs 22:8,10,24-25 [Emphasis mine])
Proverbs 22, verse 25 shows us that when one person in a home is hot-tempered or abusive, it’s easy to not only see abuse as normal but start to be abusive as well. Other members of the household learn their ways, adapt to the environment, and become ensnared, which makes it hard to leave. When someone is in an abusive marriage or relationship, even just emotional abuse, advocates and experts in domestic violence always suggest a physical separation for the victim’s safety (and for any children involved).
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When Home Isn't a Safe Place
Sadly, for many people in households across the world, that’s just not possible right now. Many states and countries have “Stay Home, Stay Safe” orders in place. But there are those out there whose home is not safe. They’re stuck in a toxic or abusive home thanks to the current Covid-19 pandemic. For those who are stuck at home where they don’t feel safe or free to be themselves, it can feel like being locked in a cage with no way out.
That’s why it’s important that we as fellow human beings and children of God come together and pray for these homes and the people in them. We should even pray for the abusive person or people, according to Romans 12, which says,
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another … Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.
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<strong>Here Is How to Pray for Those Stuck in Abusive Homes</strong>
1.) Pray for calm during this storm.
The whole world is feeling an overload of anxiety and uncertainty, which causes people to be stressed. When certain people can’t control the world around them, they become angry, full of rage, and say or do things that harm those closest to them. Pray that God calms the hearts of the anxious and angry.
I ask that you bring peace into the lives of all people right now, especially those who have a habit of abusing their family. Calm the heart of the hot-tempered person so that their family feels comfort and peace, instead of fear and anguish.
2.) Pray for the sanity of those in homes that are not peaceful or emotionally healthy.
For those who live in a home with an easily-angered person, there can be unrest, even when there is not rage. The rest of the family waits and wonders if this is a calm day or a day they will see the rage. It’s more about when—not if—it will happen.
I ask that you provide sound mental health and the ability to feel peace in the abusive homes around the world today. We know that you are the Prince of Peace, so remind them that you may not calm the storm, but you can calm your people’s hearts with your presence. Be with the abused and give them comfort.
3.) Pray for patience and endurance, with no safe place to go when the abuser starts raging.
We are asking a lot of abuse victims right now to endure the abuse and/or rage, with no way to get out. Many victims at least get a break for work, or while their spouse works, but with most businesses closed, all family members may be home sharing the same space for 24 hours per day without a break.
Please be with the victims of abuse in our world and keep them safe. I pray that they may have patience during this affliction. Let victims find a safe space in their homes where they can escape when things get bad. Also, give them the strength and courage to call for help, from police or domestic violence hotlines when things are not safe.
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<strong>4.) Pray for those who are being financially abused.</strong>
Financial abuse is when one person in a committed relationship controls all the money and doesn’t equally share to provide for basic needs and the necessities of the family. This means, not only are people dealing with cruelty and abuse, they are told they can’t purchase what is needed or anything extra right now at a time when limited trips to the store for more supplies is beneficial to everyone’s health, and money may be tighter than normal.
I ask that you provide for your children, as you did for the Israelites in the wilderness, after they left their oppressors. Please provide victims of financial abuse with their daily bread and a little extra to sustain them a few extra days. Let the hearts of the abusers be opened to the fact that this is the right thing to do, to provide for their household.
5.) Pray for the lonely because living with an abuser can be a lonely experience.
Life after separation or divorce is much less lonely, even without a partner, than living with someone you know doesn’t love or care about you. There is no intimacy (being known, loved, and safe) in a relationship with an abuser because of the fear that the victim is always doing something wrong and not worthy of the abuser’s love.
Be with all abuse victims today that they may feel your presence, know Your love for them, and feel less alone in this world. I ask that you also encourage the hearts of other people to reach out to the abuse victims that they know and let them know that they care.
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<strong>5 Ways You Can Help an Abuse Victim (Now and in the Future)</strong>
1.) Believe the victim.
Usually the abuser is confident and secure looking while the victim is shaky, emotional (sometimes even angry), and uncertain if abuse is what they’re experiencing. Because a victim might fight back, or return evil for evil, expect that it may look like both parties are abusive. Sometimes, it only takes one person to make a relationship toxic, as stated in Proverbs 22.
2.) Listen without judgment or exception of leaving.
Experts say it takes seven times for a victim to attempt to leave before they leave for the final time. Validate their feelings (of course they’re going to feel that way) and allow them to process through what they’re experiencing. They know their abuser better than anyone else, trust them to know when they’ve had enough and are ready to leave for good.
3.) Encourage victims, even of emotional abuse, to reach out for help.
Pray that someone points them in the right direction towards safety and security.
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<strong>4.) Secretly give gift cards or other monetary assistance.</strong>
Give to the victim directly so that they don’t have to ask for extra from the abuser, especially right now. When I was married and wasn’t given money for groceries, several friends donated $20 each through Paypal so that I could buy groceries. I was so very grateful and will never forget their generosity. Now I often pay it forward to others in need.
5.) Help form a safety plan.
Separating from an abuser or divorcing a narcissist can be dangerous, even if they’ve never been physically violent. During this time things can be even harder, and the safety plan may need to be modified. Creating and having a safety plan is an important preventative measure. It’s always better to be safe than to be sorry.
Essential services are still available during this “Stay Home & Stay Safe” quarantine and should be used in cases of fear, intimidation, and abuse, without hesitation. They can also help you create a personalized safety plan and teach you how to call for police assistance, if needed. Domestic violence shelters and services are still open and running. The police will still come to protect you and arrest an abuser if necessary. Don’t be afraid to call them if you are being abused and even fearful for your life.
If you or someone you know is being abused, you can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, by texting LOVEIS to 22522, or by connecting with them on their website at https://thehotline.org.
Jen Grice is a divorce mentor and empowerment coach guiding women to surviving and thriving after divorce – caused by abandonment, abuse, and/or adultery. She started Surviving + Thriving Ministries, after her own unwanted divorce in 2013. Now, she writes articles and books, creates videos, and has a "Stronger Woman After Divorce" group coaching program to walk with Christian women who want to heal and thrive after narcissistic abuse. You can find out more information about Jen, her ministry, and her coaching for women, at JenGrice.com.
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