Marriage and Abuse

Ok, this is a long one, but it's necessary.

Abuse of any kind isn't acceptable in any relationship. However, it still happens everyday. Most people I know who have committed abuse did so out of anger. However, there are those who have deep emotional problems who need serious help and protection. When there are various kinds of abuses. For the purpose of this blog I am going to focus on neglect, physical, verbal, sexual and emotional abuse for a few moments.

It is true that men do most of the physical abuse. Losing ones temper and punching someone isn't an option. Especially when that someone is a family member. (Yes, that includes the dog or cat.) When we don't have the skills to deal with our anger and the self control that should prevent us from loosing it - something bad is going to happen. The Bible was clear about this. Be angry and don't sin! It isn't a sin to be angry - it's a sin when we don't channel that passion appropriately for it's real purpose.

Now the family is forced to become codependent. Everything they say and everything they do is filtered through the thought "How will they respond to this?". The family is dysfunctional and until the anger issues are dealt with there is no hope for a better marriage or family. Instead of peace and love ruling the home, anger and wrath turn it into a war zone. When a spouses temper flares, children run for their rooms like soldiers for a foxhole. One spouse then begins the "dance" with the others anger. If all goes well only a door or a wall will get damaged. (FYI - that isn't acceptable either.)

Whether we know it or not, verbal abuse is a real problem in today's homes. When we force our anger, self esteem issues, jealousies, ignorance (or whatever) down the throat of our spouses and/or children it is going to cause damage. If you hear yourself saying statements like, "Your are so stupid." "I wish I had never married you." "I wish you were never born." "Just go away, I never want to see you again." It causes the people around you to wilt. This kind of abuse will not only drive people away from you - permanently. They are going to have to seek some kind of help in their future.

Sexual abuse is still a problem that our society cannot come to grips with. Part of the problem lies in the fact that we have lost control of the moral boundaries we as a society should be placing on what is morally acceptable. But Pandoras Box has been opened and has been for quite some time. We shouldn't be surprised that we are now reaping what has been sowed. Pornography in all forms is sexual abusive. Participating in the sex industry legal or illegally is abusive. The reason why God establishes boundaries in His Word is to protect us from abuse that awaits us on the other side.

One of the things that I hear over and over again is a drunk spouse forcing themselves on their spouse. There is a word for this and it is called Rape! No this isn't acceptable, no it shouldn't be tolerated and no you don't have to take it any more!

Emotional abuse by some estimates is the most popular form of abuse, however, it is the most difficult to recognize or prove.
Emotional abuse is designed to control your spouse or children through the use of fear, humiliation, intimidation, guilt or manipulation. It breaks the other person mental capacity down to the point where they cannot believe in themselves anymore. They are not worth anything in their eyes. Many of the forms of abuse I have stated above are used to commit emotional abuse.

Neglect is another form of abuse. When we don't care for the physical and emotional needs of our spouse and/or family we leave them starving for attention and basic needs of life. I am constantly surprised how a hug or a simple compliment changes a persons life. Over the years I have seen people come to church because the church loved them more than their own spouse or parent. I've even seen children come to dinners and fellowships because it was the only meal they were going to get for the day. Sad but true. Why does this happen? Early in my ministry I thought that people who neglected their families were mean and selfish. For whatever reason they don't love marriage or family. Chances are they were not loved within the context of a family. Now they are angry - punishing the ones around them for their pain they had to endure. Twisted but true.

Some people simply can't offer any kind of quality support for their marriage or family. They want to, but don't know how. Most of the time they are victims of abuse and neglect. They know what is wrong, but they don't know what is right. Therefore, they do nothing.

When is enough, enough? I am the first person to say, "Let's work through these issues, let's get help and discover how to bring healing to this marriage and family." I am not a quitter and I don't believe in quitting. But if you are being abused right now, and the abuser will not stop, admit they have a problem and get help. Get out! I am not advocating divorce here even though I recognize that this is a distinct possibility. That is why I want you to get some quality help from people who can make a difference. Please, if at all possible seek the help of a Christian counselor or marriage specialist. I haven't nor do I believe that separation, under these circumstances, is a sin. I don't find anywhere in the Bible where it says that you are be your spouses punching bag. Now let me reiterate. Separation isn't a weapon to threaten your spouse with and therefore manipulate them to do what you want. Separation is necessary to protect yourself and/or your family from harm.


Hannah Thomas said…
I found that most of the time people that are abused make excuses, and have a hard time owning what is happening. I think it is out of self protection myself.

When they do own it - and you have to wait until they can - a support system needs to be place to help them with the hills and valleys. Even then they may not feel comfortable separating.

I find that most people do not know how to deal with victims or their abusers. In the end neither are helped in certain ways. Its not hard to learn about the dynamics of these types of relationships, but most often than not people go on the assumption they just 'know'.

The counselor must be versed in abuse, and at times alot of them will say they are. Come to find out they may have read an article or such. lol that's not versed, and can do more damage than good! You have to be very careful with these types of relationships. Normally, it goes against common sense, rational thinking. I know I was taken back at times.

All Parties need separate types of help, and from what I have seen either 'marriage counseling' or 'anger management' is recommended. Its not an angry or martial issue - its a personal issue for all. Anger is just part of the equation, but not the source cause of the issues. When you have one party that is in fear they aren't going to be able to safely participate in marriage counseling.

There are Christian Organizations that help churches, counselors deal and educate themselves about these issues. I pray that more organizations take advantage of them.