Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #17

Domestic Abuse Misconception #17: Jealousy just means that he loves her. It is harmless and will go away as the relationship develops. The truth is that excessive jealousy is probably one of the first signs that a relationship could turn abusive. 

This is particularly important to keep in mind when you are in the early stages of a relationship. While  possessiveness and insecurity of your new love interest might be flattering at first, take note. If he can't stand the thought of you being friends with other guys, can't stand the idea that you have ever had another boyfriend, has to know where you are and what you are doing at all times of the day and night, something is very, very wrong. You are no longer a person to him. You are a possession. 

Jealousy can get really dangerous really fast. As this article states:
"Statistically, the most obscene homicidal and suicidal effects of Domestic Violence generally occur from pathologically jealous men against female partners." 
I have heard on more than one occasion that the statement, "If I can't have you, nobody can," should be viewed as a death threat. You hear that, you get help. Fast. (In the Asheville area call the Helpmate at (828)254-0516. Nationally, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800)799-SAFE.)

Jealousy isn't love. Jealousy is control. Don't get those confused.

(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #16

Domestic Abuse Misconception #16: The abuse seems rather mild right now and I can assume it will stay that way. The reality is that most abuse escalates over time. You cannot assume that the little digs at your dignity, the belittling, the overriding of your decisions, the jealousy that seems kinda sweet....you cannot assume that these relatively minor means of manipulation and control will indeed stay minor. 

Most abuse starts small. In fact, most abusive relationships start with what is called "love bombing" wherein the abuser showers the victims with so much adoration and affection that she is, in effect, a fish that is hooked and then reeled in. 

The abuse starts gradually as the abuser tests the boundaries and pushes the line bit by bit and the victim might not even notice, much like the proverbial frog in the increasingly hot water. 

Escalation can get severe. It can get dangerous. Abusers who have never been physically violent before can suddenly turn dangerous. As I mentioned in Misconception #7, in 28-33% of domestic abuse murders, there was no prior physical abuse. This is the ultimate escalation. 

I have shared before that abusers don't just get better on their own. In fact, it is rare for them to change at all. But I also need to note that abusers rarely sustain over time the same level of abuse. Most abuse will get worse over time. It is important to learn the signs of escalation as well as seek help from those who are equipped to give it.

Here is an excellent article on escalation. 


(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Monday, October 15, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #15

Domestic Abuse Misconception #15: If an abuser apologizes for his behavior then it means that he has changed. The truth is, apologizing for abusive behavior is never a sign of any change and is just one point in what is commonly called the Cycle of Abuse. 

Abusive relationships aren't always overtly or even covertly abusive. In most abusive relationships, the actual abuse is just part and parcel of a cycle. The Cycle of Abuse includes a period of tension building, where the victim feels the need to walk on eggshells and fear is escalating. Then comes the actual abuse, be it physical, emotional, sexual, verbal, financial...some episode or more intense interaction that is set on controlling the victim and breaking her down. Next comes what is often called the "honeymoon phase," with the apology or the promises that it will never happen again. The vow to change. Perhaps the begging for forgiveness. It might include a denial that the abuse ever happened. Often this is followed a period of relative calm and peace before the tension builds again. 

Some victims describe this cycle more as a switch being flipped. He is "up" and nice and caring and then it flips and he is "down" and brooding, manipulative, and threatening. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Over and over and over again. 

Whether it is the cycle or the switch, each period can last minutes or months. It isn't always consistent and that is what is so very hard. This is one of the reasons victims stay, hanging on to the promise that "this time he'll change for good." This is one of the reasons friends and family might minimize the abuse, because right now he is so nice. This cycle is what can drive a victim to question her own sanity. 

This is why a mere apology, a beg for forgiveness, an apparent act of kindness will really tell you nothing about an abuser. This is why trust can only be established after consistent behavior change over a period of time...probably a long period of time. 

True repentance will always bear fruit over time. Promises of change, as discussed in Misconception #12, must always be accompanied with the true fruit of repentance and the very hard work to break the cycle. The reality is that few abusers are willing to break that cycle.

It is important to be aware of this cycle when supporting a victim. She knows this cycle better than anyone. Do not press her to trust him prematurely, without the evidence of true repentance. Trust can only be earned with behavior change over a long period of time, proving that the cycle has been broken. 


(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #14

Domestic Abuse Misconception #14: The church is the safest place for a victim to seek help. The truth is that it is actually one of the least safe places for victims. Here is a sobering statistic. One study showed that 7 out of 10 victims seek help first from their place of worship but of those who have done so, only 4% would recommend doing it.

I don't think that most churches are intentionally cruel and intend to do harm, it is more that they are grossly ill-equipped to care for people in this situation. It is incredibly common for people within the church, especially church leadership, to provide input and guidance in an area where they have no specific training. There is this idea that if you know the Bible, if you know theology, then you are able to address any situation out there and that is, quite frankly, just not true. 



Domestic abuse is a very special situation that requires extensive knowledge in the dynamics of abuse. Training and understanding is essential. A family practice physician should never attempt to do brain surgery except in the most dire of situations (trapped on a desert island, stranded on a ship in the arctic, isolated in the heart of the rain forest...and then only if not doing so means certain death). A wise physician will always refer to a specialist for conditions he or she is not qualified to treat. To do otherwise would be considered malpractice. 

Yet the church commits malpractice all the time when it comes to abuse. Sometimes it is well meaning, but ignorance. Sometimes it is the toxic combination of ignorance plus arrogance. Sometimes it is just a blind spot. But blind spots are dangerous (I know. Our Toyota Tundra has one.) and the only way to operate safely is to be aware of your blind spots. 

Why is this so important? The truth is that abuse handled poorly by anybody does incredible damage to the victim and often further enables the abuser. But abuse handled poorly by the church does exponential damage because the church, in effect, is speaking for God. The spiritual damage done to a victim is horrific when she is destroyed by her abuser and then that abuse is disbelieved, the damage is minimized, she is forced into couples counseling, rebuked for not submitting enough, admonished to try harder, commanded to forgive, and sometimes even threatened with church discipline if she doesn't obey their authority. (This pattern happens more than you've believe.)

This is a horrific tragedy because this kind of spiritual malpractice paints a picture of God that is totally opposite of who he says he is: the God of the oppressed. 


So, what can churches do to be the safe place that victims need? Here are some basic steps:

Believe the victim. 
Support the victim.
Refer the victim to professionals and agencies that are competent to serve them.
Educate and equip the congregation to care for victims in their midst. 

Believe. Support. Refer. Equip. Make victims glad they came to you first.

Here is an excellent article on the matter. 


(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #13

Domestic Abuse Misconception #13: It is important to for someone to take charge and tell the victim what to do. Actually, the opposite is true. A victim needs to be empowered to make the wisest decisions about her own life.

Remember what abuse is. It is the use of power and manipulation to gain and maintain control over the life of another person. This means that the victim of abuse has, for perhaps years, had no voice and no choice in her life. She has been beaten down, told she didn't matter, demeaned, and devalued. She has perhaps lived in constant fear. She has been a prisoner in her own home and even in her own body.

This is why it is so very important to allow her to make her own choices and gradually get back the power to run her own life. This is why so many domestic abuse organizations strongly encourage the empowerment model. 


You can read more about empowerment here

(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Friday, October 12, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #12

Domestic Abuse Misconception #12: Anybody can change and an abuser will change if just given a chance. The truth is that yes, anybody can change, but the reality is that very few abusers do change. 

Most victims will hold out hope after hope after hope that their abuser will change. And most victims I know have given their abuser so many chances to do so. And when she does finally break the silence and seek help she is often encouraged to give more chances, hold onto more hope, forgive yet again, and trust the person who has laid her to waste.

And sometimes it looks like the abuser is changing. He is jumping through the hoops. He is acting nice. He may be pouring it on thick. But is it real change?

Lundy Bancroft is one of the most respected experts in working with abusers. (If you want to really understand abusers, read his book Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. It is absolutely terrifying.)

Even if others may see some changes (and abusers are master manipulators and excellent actors) Bancroft admits that it really is only the victim who is best able to assess if real change has taken place. Only she can really tell. He wrote this excellent piece that I highly encourage you to read
And remember that anybody can act the part for a certain amount of time. An abuser can play Dr. Jekyll for a good long time before reverting to Mr. Hyde. Encouraging a victim to trust prematurely is incredibly damaging. Trust has to be earned and it can only be earned when she sees the behavior change withstand the test of time.

That said, what would change in an abuser look like?

Here is Lundy Bancroft's  list of of some ways to assess change in an abuser:

  • Admitting fully to what he has done
  • Stopping excuses
  • Stopping all blaming of her
  • Making amends
  • Accepting responsibility (recognizing that abuse is a choice)
  • Identifying patterns of controlling behavior, admitting their wrongness
  • Identifying the attitudes that drive his abuse
  • Accepting that overcoming abusiveness will be a decades-long process, not declaring himself cured
  • Not starting to say, “so now it’s your turn to do your work”, not using change as a bargaining chip
  • Not demanding credit for improvements he has made
  • Not treating improvements as chips or vouchers to be spent on occasional acts of abuse (e.g. “I haven’t done anything like this in a long time, so why are you making such a big deal about it?”)
  • Developing respectful, kind, supportive behaviors
  • Carrying his weight
  • Sharing power
  • Changing how he is in highly heated conflicts
  • Changing how he responds to his partner’s (or former partner’s) anger and grievances
  • Changing his parenting
  • Changing his treatment of her as a parent
  • Changing his attitudes towards females in general
  • Accepting the consequences of his actions (including not feeling sorry for himself about those consequences, and not blaming her or the children for them)

(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #11

Domestic Abuse Misconception #11: Reconciliation and the preservation of the marriage should always be the goal. NO! NO! NO! Safety should be the goal. Healing should be the goal. But the truth is that in many cases safety and healing cannot happen within the context and framework of the marriage. 

My husband asked me yesterday if I had gotten any push back from these posts. I replied not yet but then again I think most of the people who would be offended by these topics have long ago unfriended me, unfollowed me, or just made sure not to read my posts. This one may be different.

Some of you the idea that preservation of the marriage is always the goal seems foolish and ridiculous. For many of us, though, we see this all the time. Within conservative Christian circles divorce is considered one of the all-time evils, causing the breakdown of the family and going against the "what God has joined together...." declaration. 


And yet....and yet even God allows divorce.

The problem with the mindset of marriage above all else is that it places the preservation of the institution over the well being of the people the institution was created for. When Jesus healed on the Sabbath and was raked over the coals for it he declared that "The Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27) In the same way, marriage was created for man, not man for marriage.

Marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ and his church, often called "the bride of Christ," a union of gentleness, kindness, self-sacrifice.  A marriage filled with abuse is a gross perversion of that picture, depicting Christ as the controlling, manipulative, self-centered monster bent on destroying the one that he "loves." That isn't a picture of Christ and his church. That is a picture of hell.

People say, 'But didn't they take vows before God?" Yes, they did. And abuse is a blatant and horrific breaking of those vows. If and when a victim moves toward divorce, it isn't that she is the one breaking her vow, she is asking to be free from the one who has already broken his, and is destroying her in the process. 


I'm not a theologian, but I have worked long and hard to try to understand the heart of God. I see a God who is for the oppressed. For the victim. For a proper and honest depiction of love. Who is for healing. Who is for life.

I am not saying that all marriages that include abuse must move to divorce. That may not always be the best or safest option. What I am saying is that safety and healing and genuine wholeness, the overall well being of the victim, must take priority because that is who God is. 


If you question my reasoning on this point, consider these words.

(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #10

Domestic Abuse Misconception #10: Nobody's perfect. We are all sinners. So both parties share in the responsibility for the abuse. 

If I had a dollar for every time I or one of my dear friends have encountered this idea....

Again, here is the problem of someone who knows about one thing assuming that it applies to something else they don't understand.

Yes. It is true. Nobody is perfect.

Yes. It is true. We are all sinners.

But HELL NO! Both parties do NOT share in the responsibility for the abuse. 

Please remember this. Abuse is the use of power and manipulation to control another person. Abuse sees the other person as less than. As a piece of property. Abuse comes from a sense of entitlement. An abuser uses whatever means to get what he wants regardless of the wishes or needs of the other person. 

Assuming that both share in the responsibility is basically saying that the victim deserved the abuse. 

In case this isn't clear enough I will say it again. THERE IS NEVER EVER A VALID REASON TO ABUSE ANOTHER PERSON. 

All those pithy sayings about marriage...."It takes two." Well, yes. It takes two to tango. It takes two to have a healthy marriage. But it only takes ONE to DESTROY IT. 

Victims are abused twice over. First from the abuser and second from those who tell her that the abuse is her fault and if she would just .....whatever.....submit, build him up, lose weight, have more sex....then he would quit destroying her life. 

OK, people. How cruel can you be to do this to someone? Yet it happens all the damn time. 

Please understand this. There are no perfect people but abuse is not a relationship problem or a marriage problem. ABUSE IS AN ABUSE PROBLEM. 

(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #9

Domestic Abuse Misconception #9: A victim should just keep these matters to herself. A wife, especially, should not disclose abuse because doing so is dishonoring to her husband. 

This is an idea that is more likely to be found in church circles, which often confuse disclosure with gossip,  and perhaps more "polite" society where "we just don't talk about those things." 

The truth is that abuse, any kind of abuse, thrives on secrecy. The first step out of abuse is disclosing that it is happening. It is not dishonoring to disclose abuse. It is about the only way to make it stop. And it is the only path toward healing. 

Secrets are rarely a good thing. They aren't healthy. They isolate. They wear a soul down with shame. The Bible continually calls us to expose evil. Ignoring evil or covering it up only leads to more destruction. 

It is important to tell someone if you are being abused, controlled, manipulated. Now, the challenge is that telling someone who doesn't get it and is dead set on fixing you or setting you straight or telling you what they think you need to do can be incredibly damaging to your trust. Call your local domestic abuse hotline (in the Asheville area it is Helpmate at 828-254-0516) or The National Domestic Abuse Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE). Share with a trusted friend. Shoot, share with me if you don't know who to tell. I can help you find safe people to talk to. 

And for those of you who are receive the honor of being entrusted with such difficult information, here is information from the Domestic Violence Resource Centre in Australia (abuse is a global problem): 



  • Listen to what she has to say.
  • Believe what she tells you. It will have taken a lot for her to talk to you. People are much more likely to cover up or downplay the abuse, rather than to make it up or exaggerate. You might find it hard to imagine someone you know could behave abusively. But the person who is abusive will probably show you a very different side to the side the victim sees.
  • Take the abuse seriously. Abuse can be damaging both physically and emotionally. Don’t underestimate the danger she may be in.
  • Help her to recognise the abuse and understand how it may be affecting her or her children.
  • Tell her you think she has been brave in being able to talk about the abuse, and in being able to keep going despite the abuse.
  • Help to build her confidence in herself.
  • Help her to understand that the abuse is not her fault and that no-one deserves to be abused, no matter what they do. Let her know you think that the way her partner is treating her is wrong. For example, ‘No-one, not even your husband, has the right to mistreat you’
  • Help her to protect herself. You could say ‘I’m afraid of what he could do to you or the children‘ or ‘I’m worried that it will get worse’ . Talk to her about how she thinks she could protect herself. See the section ‘Helping to increase her safety’ (see below).
  • Help her to think about what she can do and see how you can help her to achieve it.
  • Offer practical assistance like minding the children for a while, cooking a meal for her, offering a safe place to stay, transport or to accompany her to court, etc.
  • Respect her right to make her own decisions, even if you don’t agree with them. Respect her cultural or religious values and beliefs.
  • Maintain some level of regular contact with her. Having an opportunity to talk regularly to a supportive friend or relative can be very important.
  • Find out about Intervention Orders (Victorian name for a court protection order – in NSW these are called ‘Apprehended Violence Orders’, and in other states they are ‘Protection’, ‘Restraining’ or ‘Domestic Violence’ Orders) and other legal options available and pass this information on to her if she wants it.
  • Tell her about the services available. Remind her that if she calls a service, she can just get support and information, they won’t pressure her to leave if she doesn’t want to.
  • Keep supporting her after she has left the relationship. The period of separation could be a dangerous time for her, as the abuse may increase. She may need practical support and encouragement to help her establish a new life and recover from the abuse. She could also seek counselling or join a support group.
(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Monday, October 8, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #8



Domestic Abuse Misconception #8: If things are really that bad then she would just leave. 

The truth is that things can still really be "that bad" but she doesn't leave for so many reasons. 

She doesn't leave because she still has such a strong emotional connection with her abuser. 

She doesn't leave because she is financially dependent on her abuser. 

She doesn't leave because she doesn't want to have to let her children spend time alone with her abuser without her there to protect them. 

She doesn't leave because nobody would believe her and she would have no support.

She doesn't leave because she has nowhere to go. 

She doesn't leave because her church might tell her it is wrong to do so. 

She doesn't leave because she knows that wherever she goes, he will be able to find her. 

A victim will leave her abuser and return and leave and return a number of times, the average being seven, before she leaves for good. The process of leaving is a terrifying and brutal process and it is terrifying for good reason. 75% of homicides occur as the victim tries to leave or in the several weeks after she leaves. It is, in many ways, safer to stay in the relationship.

This is why it is so very important for a victim to reach out to trusted and informed friends or a domestic abuse shelter and make a safety plan. 

If you are in an abusive relationship and need help in figuring out what to do next or making a safety plan, call  the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) or in the Asheville area you can call Helpmate at 828-254-0516. 

(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #7

Domestic Abuse Misconception #7: If there has been no physical abuse then it is not dangerous. This couldn't be further from the truth. I already emphasized in a previous post that abuse is still abuse, even if there has been no physical violence. That all the various other forms of abuse--emotional, spiritual, sexual, financial, verbal--all, over time, tear down a victim to the point that she is a shell of her former self. Often victims are actually driven to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism or even to suicide to escape what has turned into a living hell.

But listen to this and listen well: In 28-33% of all domestic violence MURDERS, there has been NO PRIOR PHYSICAL VIOLENCE.

So before you dismiss the evil of abuse as "not that big of a deal because he doesn't hit her," take the above statistic to heart. Abuse, in any form, should ALWAYS be taken seriously.

Here are some more statistics for consideration.

(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #6

(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Domestic Abuse Misconception #6: There is no way to know if a person will turn abusive. The truth is that there are red flags.

Yesterday I talked about how abusers don't necessarily look like abusers. How very hard for all concerned, then. Are there no caution signs at all? No way to know if your current boyfriend or husband (or girlfriend or wife) will one day turn abusive and/or violent? Well, there are characteristics that serve as red flags. I think these need to be taught to everyone, especially young people getting into relationships.

Here is an excellent list of red flags. Please note that these behaviors generally escalate. And if any of the last four behaviors (14-17) are present along with several of the others, then there is a heightened risk of physical violence.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #5

(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Domestic Abuse Misconception #5: It is easy to tell who is an abuser because he will act like one to everybody. There is no way anybody I know is an abuser.

Oh, how I wish this were true. Then it would be easy to stay away from one. Maybe even easier to get away. It would certainly make it so much easier for the victim to be believed. But that isn't how abuse works.

Abusers come in all shapes and sizes and nationalities and ethnic groups and religions and socio-economic classes with any level of education or none at all. You can't walk up to a crowd of people or sit down at a dinner party or fellowship with people at church and say, "Oh, THAT guy is an abuser." You just can't tell that easily.

One of the biggest obstacles for a victim is to disclose the abuse only to be told by others that there is no way that is happening because her abuser is so very nice.

This is what you need to know.

Abuse is about power and control. It isn't about a bad personality. Abusers can be warm, smart, funny, and completely and utterly charming. They are the ultimate wolves in sheep's clothing. Most abusers do so in private, behind closed doors. Those who physically abuse their victims often inflict damage on parts of the body that nobody else will ever see. Emotional abusers may act like Dr. Jekyll in front of others and turn into Mr. Hyde behind closed doors. It is possible for close family and friends not to know of the abuse, even when they see the victim struggling to cope with life.

I have known victims whose children didn't even understand the abuse was happening because it was so very clandestine and the abuser wielded his power and control out of sight of the children (though children witnessing the abuse is much more common and an issue to be addressed in another post).

The point of this post is that you cannot assume that just because a person doesn't seem like his is abuser, he isn't. Abusers are masters at manipulation and changing a narrative to their benefit. There are, however, red flags to look for. I will share those tomorrow.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #4

(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Domestic Abuse Misconception #4: All marriages go through difficult times. What she is calling abuse is just a rough patch that she needs to push through and get over.

This is probably one of the most damaging misconceptions out there because it minimizes the abuse and calls it something it isn't. It is absolutely horrifying and demeaning and heartbreaking for a victim to finally have the courage to speak up and be honest about what she is experiencing only to have people tell her, "Oh, everybody goes through hard times."

There is a huge difference between a marriage that is, at times or even most of the time, stressful, difficult, disappointing or tedious and one that is destructive and abusive. Remember that abuse is about power and control and ownership and the systematic tearing down of another person.

NEVER ASSUME. Never assume that because someone tells you the tip of the iceberg that you know the whole story. Listen carefully, get clarification, and say tenderly, "Tell me more."

Leslie Vernick wrote a wonderful piece in one of her columns that explains the differences between a difficult, disappointing and destructive marriage.

Do you see the difference?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #3

(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Domestic Abuse Misconception #3: Abuse is a relationship problem that can be fixed with couples counseling. This idea is incredibly prevalent, the thought being that they just need to learn how to own their own junk and take responsibility for their own crap and learn to get along.

Nope! Nope! Nope!

Couples counseling is NEVER recommended where abuse is present. Why? Because abuse is not a relationship problem. It is an abuse problem. There is a power imbalance within the relationship that the abuser is dead set on maintaining at all costs. The abuser doesn't abuse because the victim is irritating or dysfunctional in some way (we all are). The abuser abuses because he wants power and control above all else and he feels jolly well entitled to it.

Most victims seeking help have often already tried couples counseling, often with disastrous results. Just as the abuser seeks to maintain control in the home and in the relationship, he seeks to maintain control in the counseling as well, often even snowing the counselor. (Not all counselors are well trained in the dynamics of domestic abuse, a post for another day.) And if the victim speaks up and is honest with the counselor in front of the abuser, she will pay for it.

Victims need safe, one-on-one counseling with a counselor who is well versed in abuse. Abusers need a very different kind of program and high accountability. But they never, ever should be seen together to try to get them to work things out. It won't work and will end up doing more damage.

This article explains it well.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #2

(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Domestic Abuse Misconception #2: If it isn't physical, it isn't abuse. This may be one of the most common ideas out there. There are professionals who believe it. There are friends and family who believe it. There are victims themselves who believe it.

The truth is that abuse doesn't have to be physical to be abuse. In fact, physical abuse is just one way, one way an abuser maintains control over his victim. There can be financial abuse, sexual abuse and, yes, even spiritual abuse. And the common thread through all of them will be emotional abuse. Because you can't reduce your intimate partner to your possession to be ruled and controlled and manipulated without intense emotional abuse.

Emotional abuse is massively damaging, more so even than physical abuse, Family and friends may not see it. The victim herself may not see it. There is no reason to call the police. No reason to visit the emergency room. No visible evidence of the destruction being done to her very being.

Emotional abuse is often called "crazymaking," because the back and forth and mixed messages and gaslighting all go hand in hand to keep the victim walking on eggshells and doubting her own sanity. In fact, most victims of emotional abuse wish that there were some physical abuse so that they would have a tangible reason for their pain. More women attempt suicide to escape emotional abuse because there seems so little hope for another way out.

This link talks about the various forms of abuse and at the bottom is a chart and each tab will bring up examples of that kind of abuse. Take a look. You might be surprised.

Domestic Abuse Misconception #1

(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Domestic Abuse Misconception #1: Abuse is the result of anger. The truth is abuse is about power and control. Abusers can be very calm, cool, and collected and still calculate to maintain control over their victim. That power and control can take many forms. Here is the power and control wheel. Take a look.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Domestic Violence Hits the Radar

Eight years ago domestic violence really wasn't on my radar. It happened to other people out there somewhere. It involved black eyes and angry men and drugs and alcohol and trips to the ER. I was so misinformed. I didn't get it.
Then I got a front row seat. I watched in horror as one of my daughters became trapped in a relationship with a controlling, manipulative, threatening man. I watched as the life was sucked out of her. I watched as she became a shell of her former self.
It took me a while to put the pieces together. To realize that what she was experiencing was abuse. That this indeed was domestic violence.
I now see it for what it is and I see it all around. Rather than a single blip on my radar, my screen lights up all over as I hear story after story after story of women I know struggling to make sense of what is happening to them or struggling to recover from what was happening to them.
So for the past few years I have listened and learned and read and read some more and attended meetings and training with Helpmate, our local domestic violence organization. I want young women to know the red flags in relationships before they get in too deep. I want women in such relationships to know and understand what is happening to them and to know that there is help. I want friends and family to know how to recognize the signs of these relationships and how to respond with empathy and support. I want churches to become places of safety and refuge.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Each day this month I will address a myth about domestic violence by sharing a little something I have learned. This won't be an academic exercise and I may not be able to track down the source. These will just be tidbits of what I now know. I hope they will be helpful to you.