Domestic Violence: Physical Abuse

The following italicized material is taken directly from the website http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/abusiverelationships/a/physicalabusestatistics.htm:

  • Between 600,000 and 6 million women are victims of domestic violence each year, andbetween 100,000 and 6 million men, depending on the type of survey used to obtain the data.
  • Women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
  • Between 1993 and 2004, intimate partner violence on average made up 22% of nonfatal intimate partner victimizations against women. The same year, intimate partners committed 3% of all violent crime against men.
  • Separated and divorced males and females are at a greater risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
  • Women and men of all races are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner.
  • Intimate partner violence affects people regardless of income. However, people with lower annual income (below $25K) are at a 3-times higher risk of intimate partner violence than people with higher annual income.
  • Studies show that access to shelter services leads to a 60-70% reduction in incidence and severity of re-assault during the 3-12 months’ follow up period compared to women who did not access shelter. Shelter services led to greater reduction in severe re-assault than did seeking court or law enforcement protection, or moving to a new location.
  • Nearly three out of four (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. 30% of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year.

Physical Abuse Homicides:

  • On average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day. In 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner. The same year, 440 men were killed by an intimate partner. Intimate partner homicides accounted for 30% of the murders of women and 5% percent of the murders of men.
  • Most intimate partner homicides occur between spouses, though boyfriends/girlfriends have committed about the same number of homicides in recent years.

Physical abuse is one of the most egregious dirty little secrets that most Christians don’t want to talk about.  It ranks right up there with childhood sexual abuse and other sexual abuses against, mostly, women.  To men who have been victimized, I want you to know I am just as outraged by your pain as I am by that of women who are victims.  I use the pronouns he, his, him primarily because it simplifies the writing and because the overwhelming numbers of victims are female.  Please understand that I am not ignoring the fact that men are also victimized.

Let me assure you that physical violence exists even in the church; in fact, some churches go so far as to condone what they like to call “domestic discipline” or some other euphemism that really means he hits; she gets hit. I’m reading a most informative book on this subject:  A Cry for Justice by Jeff Crippen and Anna Wood. Mr. Crippen is a pastor who served as a police officer for 12 years before entering training for the ministry. Anna Wood is an abuse survivor who maintains several blogs, one dealing specifically with physical abuse in marriage.  You can find their book easily online.

If your spouse has ever threatened you with physical violence if you don’t give him his way, you are in danger.  If he has ever pushed you or blocked your escape with his body, you are in danger. If he has ever slapped you for “being disrespectful” or for “disobedience,” you are in danger.  If he has ever used his fists on you, he will do it again.  You are in danger.  If he has kicked you, you are in danger.  If he has choked you or dragged you by your hair, you are in terrible danger. It doesn’t matter what excuse he gives, how much scripture he quotes to you, or how often he cries and says he is sorry and it will never happen again–he will do it again!

Is this really how you want your daughter to think she has to live?  Is it really how you want your son to treat the woman he says he loves?

Sometimes physical violence starts without it being directly on you.  Sometimes he slams doors, punches walls, breaks things, throws things at you and so on. But eventually, he will start hitting you.  If you accept it, you are teaching him how to treat you.  It won’t take long for him to learn his lesson very well.

One of the most frustrating things I have found, working as a Christian counselor, is the number of women who have been persuaded that it’s their fault.  It isn’t.  Not ever. The only way you could be blamed, I suppose, is if you continue to accept it.

When I ask an abused woman, “Why do you stay?” she invariably says, “Because I love him. When he’s not angry, things are really good.  I just keep hoping that if I can please him more he’ll quit hitting me.”  Often, these things are said through puffy, split lips as tears leak from bruised and swollen eyes.

Women, you need to understand that you are not responsible for his behavior; nor can you change him!  You neither caused his behavior, nor do you deserve to be beaten. In fact, my experience with abused women is usually that they are desperate to please, and can never quite manage it.

If you will read I Corinthians 13, you will find these characteristics of love:

It is patient; it is kind; it does not envy; it is not conceited and self-centered; love does not behave inappropriately; it looks after the needs of others more than of self; it is not easily angered; it doesn’t think ill of others; it rejoices in truth, not in sin; it bears what it must, believes truth, hopes in God, endures what it must. It never fails or runs dry.

I want to add here that love is not changed or altered by the behavior of others.  Someone who says he loves you, then turns around and knocks your teeth out, is lying.

Next week, we’ll talk about what you MUST do; what you CAN do; how to protect your kids; and at some point I want to talk about why the church often protects the abuser and tells the abused she just has to bear it.  Maybe that will be a lot more than just one or two more posts.

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One thought on “Domestic Violence: Physical Abuse

  1. Pingback: Physical Vs. Verbal – Site Title

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