A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Are abuse victims codependent?

We know that some of our readers have been told that they are codependent. Some victims of abuse who find our blog describe themselves as codependent, or as learning to not be codependent.

When victims of domestic abuse first learn about the concept of codependency they might initially think it’s a helpful concept. They might report that their therapist has told them they are codependent. Or they tell us they’re attending a codependency group which is helping them become assertive in setting healthy boundaries against the conduct of the abusive people.

If you are are someone who thinks that the codependency model is helpful to victims of domestic abuse, we have some information that you might find a bit surprising. But we also want to affirm for you that

  • it’s wise to set healthy boundaries against the conduct of abusers
  • it’s healthy and godly to dis-attach from abusers and their manipulative coercive control.

Setting boundaries and learning how to be assertive are part of developing a godly and mature character. But the codependency model is not essential for those things. In fact, we believe that the codependency model unduly pathologizes victims of abuse because it pictures them as people who have something wrong with them, some deficit, some deficiency, some ‘pathology’. So we invite you to recalibrate your ideas by reading the following articles:

Are Abuse victims Codependent?

Interview with Catherine DeLoach Lewis (part 2)

The Myth of “Stockholm Syndrome” and other labels which are used to discredit and pathologize victims of abuse

Honouring Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships

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