I think I’ve finished with the topic of domestic violence for now. I just want to say a couple of things to wrap up this topic. One of them is this: The abuser uses silence to protect himself from being exposed.
Remember, this man is often respected in his workplace and, especially, in his church. He doesn’t want you to blow his cover. He keeps you quiet by threats of more violence, or by promises that it won’t happen again. He plays on your sympathy by pointing out that he could lose his job, or his position as an elder, deacon, or pastor. He may even threaten to harm your children if you tell anyone what is going on in your home.
Years ago, in 1983, there was a case in central Minnesota in which a pastor’s wife shot and killed her husband. The whole area was shocked. This type of violence was pretty unusual. As the case was investigated, it became clear that the woman had been victimized for years by her control-freak spouse. He was smart, though. He never marked her anywhere that would show. He never let her go to a doctor or a hospital, either.
Once, however, the wife was having a dress fitted and needed to remove her outer clothing. The dressmaker saw the bruises. If my memory is correct (and forgive me, it was a long time ago) the dressmaker testified at the trial about what she had seen. The woman acknowledged that she was indeed a victim of years of physical abuse. She never denied that she had shot and killed her husband. She was so depressed and miserable that she was willing to go to prison or even death row in order to escape the pain, fear, and humiliation.
The jury found her innocent. Self-defense. Praise the Lord!
I’ve had some inquiries from women who are in violent marriages. They want help, but don’t know where to go. I’ve done my best to give them some advice. The one piece of advice I’d like to leave with you tonight is this:
If you are being hurt physically, get out right now. Call your local police and ask for help in finding a shelter if you don’t know where to go.
If you are being hurt emotionally, mentally, verbally, or spiritually you still need to consider separating for a time while you get your mind clear and can figure out what to do.
Please, do NOT allow yourself to be caught in the “just pray, obey, and stay” trap that well-meaning but clueless church leaders can often suggest to you. They don’t really understand. If they could see even one incident of what goes on in your home, they would help you find a way to leave. Usually, they just can’t believe that someone they know and possibly respect could actually be capable of what you’re describing.
Leaving is not equivalent with divorcing. You can still try to get your abuser into some kind of counseling help. You can work on your own issues that kept you in this awful situation for so long.
Above all, don’t just do nothing. Get help. God does not require you to accept a life of misery in the name of wifely submission.