Domestic violence and abuse is wrong and inexcusable. It should never happen, yet it does happen--a lot. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as "the wilful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another." It is described as an epidemic that does not discriminate, as it effects all communities, races, and economic levels. Statistics report that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
There is much that could be shared on this sensitive subject. We know that women as well as men can be victims of domestic violence. We know that abusers seek power and control. We know that victims of abuse feel an enormous sense of guilt, shame, and fear. And, we also know that without intervention, the cycle of abuse continues. Yet, what can we learn from God's word that will radically change our thinking about violence and abuse as a victim or an abuser?
God has much to say about how we treat others and how others treat us. Domestic violence does not fit into his parameters of love, kindness, selflessness, mercy, safety, and grace. God's love is perfect and unconditional. It does not bring shame, fear, or evoke anger.
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."--John 15:12 (NIV)
God desires that we live abundant lives; not lives of fear, abuse, manipulation, and mistreatment. If you have experienced abuse, please hear this: You have worth, meaning, and importance. No matter what harmful messages you have received that have shaped your thinking or how you see yourself, "You deserved it", "Why do you make me do this to you?" "You are never going to do better than me", "You are fat", "You are ugly", "Nobody will ever want you", "If you try to leave, I will find you", etc.--make a decision to side with God's word. You are more than what you have been told. You are more than how you have been treated. There is life outside of the darkness of abuse.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, help is available. Please do not allow fear or shame to keep you from seeking help and immediate safety for yourself (and your children).
CALL: National Domestic Violence Hotline --(800)799-7233
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray for any victims of domestic violence who may be reading this now. Father, I pray that they would come to an awareness of how much you love them and desire that they live lives that are free from abuse, fear, shame, and danger. I pray that you would give them the grace and the strength to leave an unhealthy situation. I pray that you would provide for them as well as any children who may be in the home. I pray for their safety and protection. I pray that you would send resources, financial support, safe passage, and shelter. I pray that you would heal and mend broken hearts and that restoration and new life would begin, in Jesus' name. Amen.