Let Her Be Angry
[September 7, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
You have written asking how you can help a friend of yours who has been abused in her marriage. You have no experience with domestic violence or counseling but, you want to help. She has only just left. Your desire to love her is admirable. Thank you for writing us. There is so much that you can do for your friend. You say that she is emotionally “all over the place”; you suggest that her behavior is sinful, as she alternates between fits of tears and extreme anger. You are baffled as to how to help her. I am so glad you asked us. The first thing that you can do is to believe her. Do not question her or over-question her. Remember, also, that she is going through a trauma. She may not have every little detail straight. She is also a mother. Now, a single mother. She is exhausted. Give her some slack. She is doing the best she can. In fact, help her with her kids….give her a break….and time to heal.
Second….let her be angry. You cannot imagine what she has been through. She even has yet to sort it all out. Listen — it is not going to last forever. Just let her be furious for a while. It is important….it is part of the grieving process and it is not sin to be angry. Stop telling her she is bitter and unforgiving. She absolutely needs to let loose of some of the rage. What was done to her was sinful. Unconscionable. She cannot quietly, barely brush over that and move on like nothing happened! Your friend has been told to go back to her abuser over and over and then been refused the privilege of being frustrated and exasperated. How can this be? She has been in a pressure cooker for years and she is finally able to let some of the emotion out. Let her do it. The anger will eventually pass, if she belongs to Christ. The wrath in her soul and the sobs of her heart will be replaced with a quiet determination, forgiveness and a strength you have never seen in her before. She will learn to set up boundaries in her life and she will become lovely for, perhaps, the first time in her life as she begins to walk in freedom, controlled only by the Holy Spirit, and no one else. She has a chance to bloom now. Do not….DO NOT tell her to stuff it all in. She is a Believer, isn’t she? She has shown a consistent walk with Christ. She will not take vengeance on her abuser. Give her a place to vent.
Your friend’s emotions are beautiful. They are a vivid spectrum. And when she experiences the good and the angry to their full, God is glorified. He will help to release her. Uphold her; love her; remind her over and over that she is a beloved child of God. And do not encourage her go back to the abuser….affirm her constantly. And if she is wavering and blaming herself, tell her the truth that it was not her fault — that she did not deserve what he did to her. That you would also be angry if you had suffered what she has suffered. That anyone would.
It is so hard to know what the right words are to say when a friend has experienced domestic violence or trauma of any kind. Sometimes, the best thing to say is, “I cannot imagine what you have been through because I have never had to face it. But, I see how horrendous it has been by the tears rolling down your cheeks. I have no words.” Then, simply a hug. Let her cry. Let her wail, even.
You are a good friend to her. Thank you for the love you show those who deal with situations and horrors that most of us cannot imagine. Thank you for carrying her burden, Christian.
[September 7, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to September 7, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to September 7, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to September 7, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (September 7, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]