Breaking the Enemy of Silence

By EXW Staff
January 16, 2024

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This article comes to us from Pastor Aritha Tomlinson. Although it is not a worship helps type article, we feel that it may be helpful to someone who is a worship leader who may be experiencing abuse. We know it is happening and want to offer a resource of support.

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.� 2 Cor 4:7-9

I thought of this Scripture as I scrolled the list of names on the Remember My Name Virtual Memorial. The women on the list were victims of domestic violence. In 1994, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence started this project to create a national registry of names and to increase public awareness of domestic violence deaths. These women were hard pressed on every side. They were crushed, perplexed, and in despair, persecuted and forsaken. The lives of these treasures in earthen vessels were prematurely snuffed out � they were struck down and destroyed. The destroyer in most cases, were men whom they married -- for better or worse, til� death due us part. There were names of women from all over the world. Some were listed along with their children. As I viewed the list of names, tears streamed from my eyes. I thought to myself, there but for the Grace of God, go I. I could not view the entire list, it seemed to be never ending, and it brought back too many unpleasant memories.

Some of you may question why we would want to address domestic violence? �Isn�t that focusing on the negative,� you may ask? Some of you may think so; however, I am sure the families of the victims would not. You see, many of these victims suffered alone and in silence. Our focus for the Women of Wisdom newsletter is to impart wisdom which is why we choose to address current issues that are prevalent within our society. Some of you may not relate --- but many of you will. Domestic violence is a problem, it happens all around us -- in many Christian families. First and foremost, our objective is not to instigate a �witch-hunt� or to have women screaming, �domestic violence,� every time their husbands get angry or upset. Secondly, it is not intended to encourage women in abusive relationships to stage a mass exodus. Our objective is to educate, to address the symptoms of domestic violence and to provide hope and encouragement to women in abusive relationships. We want to shine a light of hope on the spirit of violence that keeps some women in bondage.

According to the American Medical Association, husbands and boyfriends severely assault as many as 4 million women every year. One in four women will experience some type of spousal abuse during their lifetime. One of these four women could be sitting next to you in the pew. The truth is, many wives suffer some form of domestic abuse regardless of racial, religious, educational, or economic backgrounds. On any given Sunday morning, tens of thousands of Christian women who have gathered for worship leave the sacred sanctuary to return home to an abusive environment. Believe me, my friends, violence affects scores of church families, and many religious men are abusers. Many women suffer in silence, hiding their situations from family and friends because of the shame and embarrassment they feel. While others remain silent because they feel others may not believe them. For these women, violence has become the status quo but it is not God�s will for their lives. Then there are those that have broken the silence only to be told by well meaning members in the Church to �go home and pray for your husband -- God will work it all out.� This type of response only encourages a woman to submit to violence and it is wrong. The victim believes that if she is a little more submissive to her husband, he will change. Submission to abuse will not lead an abusive husband to repentance; it only gives him more power over the victim and increases the likelihood of continued and increased violent. Not that we discount the power of God to work miracles but in most cases, especially for the 4 million women who are victims of domestic violence, it does not work. God does not condone the violence of an abusive husband and He does not take pleasure in the submissive wife�s suffering.

Let�s lay a foundation so that you will understand what we mean when we use the term, �domestic violence.� We�ll begin by answering questions the most frequently asked questions.

What is Abuse? Abuse simply means to mistreat or misuse someone. The perpetrator seeks to dominate or control, or prevent the victim from making free choices. Contrary to what most people think, abuse is not always physical, there are several forms of abuse:

- Emotional or Psychological Abuse: The perpetrator mistreats and controls the victim through fear, manipulation, intimidation, and by attacking her sense of self worth. The abuser seeks to make his wife feel afraid, helpless, confused and worthless. The form of abuse could include name-calling, mocking, belittling, accusing, blaming, yelling, swearing, harassment, and isolation from family/friends, abusing authority, and withholding emotional affection and/or support.

- Physical Abuse: This may include assaulting, threatening, or restraining a person through force. Men who batter use physical violence to control women to scare them into doing whatever they want them to do. Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, punching, beating, grabbing, shoving, biting, pulling hair, using or threatening the use of weapons, blocking a woman from leaving a room or the house during an argument, driving recklessly, or the use of intimidation through threatening gestures.

- Sexual Abuse: Behavior that dominates or controls someone through sexual acts, demands or insults. It includes making a woman submit to sexual things against her will, when she is sick or when the sexual act is painful. The use of force in a sexual act is rape, inside or outside of marriage. Sexual abuse is threats or coercion to obtain sex or perform sexual acts; forcing a woman to have unprotected sex, or sex with others; treating a woman like a sex object and calling her names like �frigid� or �whore.�

The Cycle of Abuse: In most cases, a cycle of violence occurs. The cycle of violence begins with increased tension, anger, blaming, and arguing � the slightest little thing will set off an argument. The cycle progresses to the violent stage where the abuser begins to afflict physical violence. After the storm of violence blows over, he may experience remorse and swear he will never resort to such behavior again � this is usually called the calm or honeymoon stage. The cycle repeats itself months after month, year after year. The victim�s life is like an emotional roller coaster. The abuser can easily sweet talk his way back into the victim�s life by showering her with love and gifts, telling her he will be a better husband and/or starting to attend church services or counseling. This is short-lived, however, and the cycle continues under his control until the abused woman learns to break free.

Who Are the Abusers? You would be surprised. They come from all racial, religious, educational, and economic backgrounds. Some dress in business attire and live in upper class neighborhoods, while others are blue collar workers. Many are poor, unemployed and uneducated and many are respected members of the Church. Most researchers agree that the dynamics for abusive behavior is far too complex but there appears to be one common thread: many abusive men were raised in abusive homes. They were either beaten as children or they observed their father beating their mother. Most abusive men hide behind the macho mask. They appear to be outgoing and charming, but inside they are extremely insecure. Regardless of who they are, or whatever reasons they use for battering their spouse, the abusive man needs to know that with every blow, with every harsh abusive word, or with every effort to control, he is systematically stripping another person of her rights as a child of God.

Why do Women Stay in Abusive Relationships? Women don�t stay in abusive relationships because they like being abused nor does it mean that they are weak or helpless women. Most women in abusive relations are strong capable women who have stayed in the relationship so long they have been weakened by the domestic abuse. Surprisingly enough it is often the strongest women who stay in these relationships because they are determined not to give up -- they are convinced that they can change or fix the relationship.

What Effect Does Domestic Violence Have on the Children? Studies show that 1/3 of the children who are raised in abusive homes have some type of behavioral and/or emotional problems. These children experience problems such as depression, anger and hostility, isolation, and many other symptoms. They have difficulty in school, academically and socially, and they are usually addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. Children that grow up in an abusive environment are attention seekers. They do whatever is necessary to gain the limelight, e.g., violent behavior, lashing out, etc. It is a fact that boys who witness their father�s abuse of their mothers are more likely to inflict severe violence when they become adult. Worse yet, girls who witness maternal abuse are more likely to tolerate abuse as adults.

How Does the Victim Break Free? She begins by facing the facts and by facing her fears. Denial is a coping mechanism for most abused women but denial is also the very thing that hinders her from breaking the cycle of violence in her life. Facing the facts, although it is a good thing, will stir up emotional feelings in the woman � especially fear. In her book, Invisible Wounds � A Self Help Guide for Women in Destructive Relationships, Kay Douglas suggests that unacknowledged fears play on our minds and sap our confidence until we have no energy left to deal with the problems at hand. �The way out of fear is through it,� she says. The next step is for the victim to recognize the need for a change in her life. Yes, change can be difficult and it can be frightening, but for women involved in abusive relationships, change is absolutely necessary for her personal well-being.

Is there Hope for An Abusive Marriage? Yes, but healing from such deep wounds will usually require extensive therapy. Some men will require help from a professional counselor trained in dealing with domestic violence and abusive behavior. The important thing to remember is that change does not come overnight. The abuser has a long road ahead of him that will require some hard times, a lot of work, and a great deal of courage. However, if he preserves and leans upon the Lord to change him, he will gain a new outlook on life and he will learn how to exercise self-control in relationships.

Much of the information included in this article was taken from the Family Life web site (a division of Campus Crusade for Christ). There is a very good Bible Study, �A Way of Hope,� that can be downloaded at Make a healthy choice, start your journey toward healing by breaking the silence. Seek outside help and guidance; don�t try to make the change on your own. If you are in a violent situation, or if you know of someone that is, there is help for you. Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website at, or call 1-800-799-SAFE. The hotline is manned, 24/7 (365 days of the year, around the clock) with certified victim advocates who provide critical life-saving information and referrals from community service to financial support.

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