Not all victims leave abusive relationships. Sometimes a victim will stay in an abusive relationship even when her Christian supporters believe that she should separate for safety’s sake. Often the victim will go back to an abuser many times, despite the doubts of others about the abuser’s genuine repentance.
Supporters can do some things to help such a victim assess the reality of her situation: listen with concern but without judgment, help her to think about her predicament, show you care for her safety and explain the biblical principles covered in this book. The abuse has eroded her sense of value and autonomy; she needs to redevelop it and can only do this if she is encouraged and allowed to make biblical choices at her own pace. A victim needs to know that her supporters will be available, providing nurture and guidance, whether she stays in the relationship, or whether she leaves.
A female victim is at greatest danger around the time of separation. The risk of being murdered by her husband goes up by about 50% when she leaves him. Post-separation abuse often continues for months (years in the most serious cases). The practical life issues the victim faces are usually very complex. Finances, safety, arresting, property and other issues are often intertwined.
The pastor cannot necessarily assist with all of these areas, but the wider church community can help if they are motivated and equipped. Secular organizations can provide advice and literature to help equip a congregation in many of the practical details. However, the role of remedying the victim’s spiritual misunderstandings rests primarily with the church. Often victims are not ready to look at the scriptural issues until months or years after separation when life has become more settled. Other victims need answers to the scriptural aspects first, before they dare take action on the practicalities.
(excerpt from Barbara Roberts’ book, Not Under Bondage [Affiliate link]. p33)
6 thoughts on “Thursday Thought — Helping Victims”
From inside the muck and mire, moving forward at my pace, what I would like to receive the most yet experience the least is genuine empathetic connection as demonstrated by this short clip The Power of Empathy by Bene Brown.
Brené Brown on Empathy
That’s a great clip, selah! Thanks for sharing it 🙂
I think it is also important to note that if a victim chooses to stay with their abuser, you as an advocate, family member or friend also need to be aware of your own safety and take precautions. An abuser may retaliate against you or work to isolate their victim, and view you as a threat. It is not common but it does happen that an abuser targets those who help or support their victim.
Also, maintaining clear expectations and personal boundaries is crucial. Remaining focused and being specific on what your role is can help you stay out of the tension, and allow you to give consistent care.
Thanks for sharing these tips! xx
Very true, Emily.
Thanks for sharing Barb. I needed to know that I am a normal victim of abuse.
The worst words a victim / survivor can hear are “I wondered what took you so long.”
I was leaving an abusive work environment. the comment made by a sibling who worked at the same place of business, but in a different area.
Only in hindsight, do I see and understand the red flags.
A non-abusive sibling in the same situation might have suggested ways to stay safe, pointed out the red flags. Instead, words of condemnation when I was already so close to suicidal.
(Omitting many significant details for my protection.)
My actual role at the workplace never matched the description written on paper, the responsibilities not clearly delineated. Sometimes this provided much needed flexibility, sometimes this allowed others to offload their decision making onto me. Sometimes I was the scapegoat, sometimes the “hero”.
My role was never clear…