Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘Domestic violence’

Men Are Victims of Domestic Violence, Too!

Editor’s Note:  No matter who is the perpetrator, the very sinfulness of bullying behavior is exactly the same whether the abusive behavior is initiated by the husband or the wife.  This article by Leslie Vernick, nationally known author –  counselor – speaker, is important.  It is important because it can be wrongly assumed that domestic violence always is about a female being victimized by a male.  While this scenario is regrettably too often true, it is only “part” of the total picture.  No one, female nor male, who is victimized via domestic violence must be overlooked.

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

In this week’s blog, I’m (Leslie Vernick) doing something different. It’s not exactly a question, but rather some comments from a man who responded to my last newsletter titled, Is Your Marriage Healthy? and wants people to know that men are victims of domestic violence too.

I applaud his bravery in speaking out and giving us this reminder that the Church as well as society needs to be much more aware and sensitive to the problem of domestic violence in general, but not to forget about men who suffer abuse at the hands of their wives.

I’ve (Leslie Vernick) condensed his rather lengthy comments and have a few of my own thoughts at the end. My second newsletter this month is on the topic of  Five Things You Can do to Help Someone that Has been Abused.

Sign up on my home page at http://www.leslievernick.com/ if you’d like to receive it.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
A Reader’s Response:

In your last newsletter on healthy marriages, one sentence grabbed my attention. You wrote,

“When a woman bullies her husband, the sinfulness and inappropriateness of the interactions are much more obvious to church leaders”

What??

My experience is anything but that. My experience is that women bullying and abusing men is considered funny. Men have no place to turn. They can be hit, abused, bullied and terrorized by their wives, and the only way they can hope to have contact with their children is if they continue to allow themselves to be victimized.

My experience has been that doors of help close for men. Social services make excuse after excuse for a woman’s abusive behavior and scorn the man for taking photos or videos during her perpetration. The man must be ultra perfect, and if he ever does wrong, he goes to jail. If she does wrong, she needs more compassion, more money, more help.

My experience has been that very few church leaders have the courage to look a woman in the eye and confront her about her abusive behavior. Church leaders, therapists, and other professionals often migrate to the “most reasonable” partner and the partner willing to make changes. So that one is the one who changes and changes and changes, only to be hit, raged at, and made out to be a monster, because well “all men are monsters.”

My wife posted as her Facebook profile photo, a picture my mom took of my wife, our daughter and me in front of the Christmas tree (2010) in which, under my shirt, I was physically injured by my wife. The picture literally makes me want to vomit, and I cannot look at it for more than a few seconds. It is still in my wife’s photo album on FB. I avoid looking there.

And as long as therapists, authors and professionals look at this issue with even a hint of “gender” in view, then, frankly, right now, I feel we’ve lost. Abuse is to be confronted and our children are to be protected. Families are to be protected. And women’s help lines and shelters simply MUST be opened up to men. Either that or parallel organizations can fill the need.

Out of about 20 calls to women’s help lines (yes, I’ve been that desperate), there was ONE time where someone actually fielded my call. Someone actually gave me the counsel, information, and advice that they would have given a woman. That was a VERY helpful and healing call in my life, and I am grateful that the woman on the other end of the line neither yelled at me nor hung up on me as others had.

In the meantime, I am raising our daughter. I separated from my wife in mid August and even though we have a 1week on 1 week off caretaking arrangement — oops, she’s sick, oh, she brings our daughter to kindergarten late or not at all, oops, she dresses our daughter in clothes that don’t fit right — oh combing her hair is just too much of a hassle, so forget about it, she can just look like a nappy mop in KG, that’s cool.

And no one would suspect it, considering her doe-faced kind-smile and soft-eyed presentation. Which is of course, the woman I married, but not the woman my wife is and was towards me behind closed doors.

And as the man, I am urged to “be more understanding.” Of what? Of outright abuse? I have never hit my wife. She has hit, bitten, restrained, yelled, raged, etc.

The counselors want to discuss how both of us are perpetrators. Maybe make the discussion “fair” by seeing it as 50/50.

Well some things are not 50/50.

A sniper can kill you from 2 miles away with a single bullet. Was the exchange 50/50? A robber can steal your car. Was that 50/50? Are you just as much to blame as the person who stole your car? Do you need to do “personal work,” because someone stole your car?

I have spent about a decade now absorbing abuse, compensating for constant chaos, and I am now repairing my life.

Thank God, now that I have separated from my wife, the kindergarten teachers and administration see more of what is going on. My daughter is well dressed, well taken care of, and OK when she is with me. When she is with my wife, she is either very very late, ragged, or distressed. My wife hasn’t kept her appointments with the kindergarten staff and, oh, now my wife wants to pull her out of her kindergarten, where she is loved, has friends, and plays on a mountainside.

In one sense, I am fortunate, because my wife’s neglect of her own child is pretty obvious to those who are in contact with her regularly. I have deep sympathy for men who are abused by women who do a “good job” with their children. That’s got to be an even more impossible situation.

And how does it feel as a man to have “escaped” from an abusive relationship with a child? I feel like a complete idiot. Sure, people smile at me and my daughter a lot in public. She sings and is well dressed and both my wife and I are good looking people, so our daughter is simply a beautiful child. But the “background” behind this father with the adorable daughter is simply: horrific.

Please don’t forget, men are victims of domestic violence too.

My Response (Leslie Vernick):

Thank you for your poignant and passionate response. For those of you who did not get my last newsletter, the larger context of my comment he’s referring to is:

When a husband bullies his wife, his behavior does not describe biblical headship, nor is her forced “submission” characteristic of biblical submission. The correct terms are coercion, manipulation, intimidation, or rape and she is the victim. Let’s make sure we use the right words.

When a woman bullies her husband, the sinfulness and inappropriateness of the interactions are much [less] obvious to church leaders, but the very sinfulness of bullying behavior is exactly the same whether the abusive behaviors is initiated by the wife or the husband.

Your points are well taken. Men are victims of abuse and here is more sad news:

1. The Family Violence survey as well as numerous other studies have found that men are just as likely to be the victims of domestic violence as women are.

2. Men indeed have fewer resources to help them. The only national toll-free helpline for men is the Domestic Abuse Helpline (888 743 5754). Go to their website at http://dahmw.org/ to find other helpful websites and resources for men who are abused. There are very few shelters (out of 1,200-1,800 DV shelters) that offers services to men.

3. Men are less likely to be supported or validated. Men who report abuse are often seen as wimpy, frail, passive, or stupid, thus making it much more likely that they won’t report. Suzanne Steinmentz, director of the Family Research Institute at Indiana University/Purdue said, “They [men] wouldn’t dream of reporting the kind of minor abuse – – such as slapping or kicking – – that women routinely report.” Why not? Because men are supposed to “take it like a man.”

4. Society doesn’t deem men as “victims” and we tend to perceive women more vulnerable than men, therefore abuse by a woman toward a man may seem more justified or excusable than abuse by a man toward a woman. A recent study revealed that more than 51% of men and 52% of women felt that sometimes it was appropriate for a wife to slap her husband. On the other hand, only 26% of men and 21% of women felt it was ever appropriate for a husband to slap his wife.

5. A man calling the police to report domestic abuse is three times more likely to be arrested than the woman who is abusing him. This makes him afraid to report, thus making the statistics for abuse of men higher than we know.

6. When a woman is abusive, she is more likely to be seen as “sick” and labeled with a mental health diagnosis. People tend to be more compassionate toward someone labeled sick. When a man is abusive, he is more likely to be labeled with entitlement issues, power and control problems, character defects or sin problems. Compassion is directed toward the female victim, not the male offender.

To the man who wrote his comments and other men who are victims of domestic violence, we hear you. Domestic violence isn’t a woman’s problem or a man’s problem, it is a human problem and a tragedy.

Please know, God gives wisdom for both the victim and abuser to heal and to change so that generational patterns are broken, but it’s only as we speak up and speak out about this can we receive the help we and our loved ones need.

Intimate Partner Violence: Healthy Steps You Must Take

SOURCE: Adapted from an article from the American Association of Christian Counselors

Provide for your Safety

Ensuring your safety (and that of any children involved) is always the first priority. You must take steps to separate from your abuser if necessary.

Have a Plan

Develop a plan for the next time abuse occurs. Be sure that you have numbers to call — police, a family shelter or hotline, and a trusted friend or counselor.  If you decide to leave, where will you go? Who will you call? Have bags with essentials packed and in an easily accessible location so you and the children can leave quickly if needed. You should photocopy important documents and have them packed as well. You should think through how you can access money, car keys, and the important documents if you do need to leave suddenly.

If you need to leave at some point after an abusive incident, no argument or discussion with the abuser should happen at this point. You should calmly exit and go to a location you have predetermined with the people at that location.  Do not hesitate to seek out expert consultation in this very serious and complicated problem.

Follow Up

As a victim of Intimate Partner Violence, seek continued help.

Be Reassured

Abuse is never deserved but is always wrong.  A spouse’s role in a marriage never includes the right to manipulatively control or abuse another person.

Assess Relationships

Assess how much support you have and be encouraged to reach out to others for help.  Have supportive family members join the effort.  A victim of abuse is often isolated, both out of shame about the situation and the abuser’s need to control.

Biblical Insights

Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.  Genesis 31:7

Trust involves being trustworthy and being willing to trust another. Originally Jacob fled from home because he had deceived his brother (Gen. 27:41–43); here he fled because he had been deceived by his father-in-law. Violated trust can destroy relationships.  How much better to build a bond of trust with those closest to us.

And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”  Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. Numbers 20:10–11

Moses reacted in anger, and it cost.  Anger can be the most damaging of all emotions, causing people to say or do things they regret.  Out-of-control anger can ruin friendships and marriages and even cause nations to go to war.  Some people end up living forever with the consequences of choices made in a moment of heated anger.  People who struggle with destructive anger must find help to discover alternative ways to manage it.  This begins by turning it over to God.

Then [Abimelech] went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, on one stone.  But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, because he hid himself.  Judges 9:5

The tragic story of Abimelech pictures extreme violence used for selfish reasons. This illegitimate son of Gideon and a concubine (Judg. 8:29–31) brought disaster on the rest of Gideon’s family.  Violence and murder became his way of dealing with all threats to his power (9:22–49).  In the end, however, his violent ways resulted in his own destruction (vv. 50–56).

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4

Parents ought to be careful in their training and discipline not to provoke their children “to wrath.”  In other words, sometimes a parent’s discipline can be overly harsh, unfair, unloving, or irresponsible, causing children to become angry, discouraged, and resentful.  Parents who discipline fairly, consistently, and lovingly are raising their children well.

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Colossians 3:21

Although children are commanded to obey their parents, this does not give parents permission to be cruel or unreasonable in their treatment of their children.  Parents who nag, belittle, or deride their children destroy their self-esteem and discourage them.

The purpose of parental discipline is to train children. Consistent discipline, administered with love, will help children grow into responsible adults. The hard and unvarnished truth is that violence doesn’t resolve anything, and ultimately leads to more violence.

Not only does a violent person fail to gain control, but he or she loses the person who would have loved him or her.

Hope After Spousal Abuse

(Adapted from Family Life Today/A Weekend to Remember)

You Are Not Alone

When you are abused, you feel desperately alone.

You may think, Why me?

Other women don’t have this problem. Something must be wrong with me. And you may feel so ashamed that this is happening to you that you don’t want anyone to know about it. But the truth is that many wives suffer some form of domestic abuse regardless of racial, religious, educational or economic backgrounds.

According to the American Medical Association, husbands and boyfriends severely assault as many as four million women every year. One in four women will experience some type of spousal abuse during their lifetime. Many of these women feel trapped, anxious, afraid, and helpless. Some feel they are to blame – that if they could just do better at pleasing their husbands, they could change their situations. Others don’t know what to do, or where to go to get help. Most suffer in silence, hiding their situations from family and friends because of the shame and embarrassment they feel. Or perhaps they fear others will not believe them.

No, you are not alone. But there is hope!

Many women have taken bold and courageous steps to seek help, to find freedom from abuse, and to begin the journey toward to a new life. Some have even seen their abusers find the help they desperately needed to stop their destructive behavior and to experience healing and recovery in their own lives. Some couples, through the help of intervention and a structured recovery process guided by pastors or qualified counselors, have been able to experience healing and reconciliation in their marriages.

Yes, it is true that change does take time, a lot of courage, and a great deal of support, but change can happen. And if you are in an abusive situation, change must happen.

What Is Abuse?

A crucial first step in this process will be to acknowledge and understand the abuse occurring in your marriage. Abuse means to mistreat or misuse someone. People abuse others to dominate or control, or to prevent others from making free choices.

There are several different forms of abuse:

*Emotional or psychological abuse: Mistreating and controlling someone through fear, manipulation, and intimidation, and by attacking that person’s sense of self-worth. The abuser seeks to make his wife feel afraid, helpless, confused, and worthless. This form of abuse includes: name-calling, mocking, belittling, accusing, blaming, yelling, swearing, harassing, isolating from family and friends, abusing authority, withholding emotional support and affection, and betraying trust.

*Physical abuse: Assaulting, threatening, or restraining a person through force. Men who batter use physical violence to control women – to scare them into doing whatever they want them to do. Physical abuse includes: hitting, slapping, punching, beating, grabbing, shoving, biting, kicking, pulling hair, burning, using or threatening the use of weapons, blocking you from leaving a room or the house during an argument, driving recklessly, or intimidating you with threatening gestures.

*Sexual abuse: Behavior that dominates or controls someone through sexual acts, demands or insults. Sexual abuse includes: making you do sexual things when it is against your will, when you are sick, or when it is painful; using force (including rape in or out of marriage), threats, or coercion to obtain sex or perform sexual acts; forcing you to have unprotected sex, or sex with others; treating you like a sex object, and calling you names like “frigid” or “whore.”

Facing the Facts – And Facing Your Fears

Denying the abuse or the impact of abuse may have helped you to cope with the problem until now. However, denial is also the very thing that will hinder you from breaking the cycle of violence in your life, and from experiencing peace and freedom from abuse.

Facing the fact that you are being abused or battered by your husband, and that his behavior is not normal, can stir up deep emotional feelings – especially fear. You must acknowledge these fears in order to face and deal with the problem. In her book, Invisible Wounds – A Self-Help Guide for Women in Destructive Relationships, Kay Douglas writes, “Unacknowledged fears play on our minds and sap our confidence until we have no energy left to deal with the problems at hand. The way out of fear is through it.” She goes on to say, “As we face and feel our vulnerability, our fear may increase in intensity for a brief time. Then it begins to diminish. When we know what we are dealing with, much of the power of that feeling goes. We move through fear to a calmer, stronger place within. Having faced the worst, we are free to put our energy into coping creatively with our situation.”

It’s Time to Make the Right Choices

You do not deserve to be abused, nor are you to blame for the abuse that you have suffered. Abuse of any type is wrong, and if you are in an abusive situation, the first step toward new life and freedom is to recognize that there is a need for a change in your life. Change can be difficult, and in some cases, change can be frightening. However, in any type of an abusive situation, change is absolutely necessary for your own well being.

Remember, abuse is about power and control. You may be experiencing verbal or emotional abuse now. But if changes are not made to resolve your current situation, then when your husband begins feeling as if he still does not have enough control, the abuse will escalate into more violent forms. According to some authorities, when abusers hit or break objects or make threats, almost 100 percent resort to physical battering. What might be verbal abuse now could turn into physical abuse down the road. No form of abuse is acceptable!

Contrary to what you may believe, you are not powerless! You are a worthwhile person and you do not have to continue to accept the mistreatment of your husband. You have the power to make your own choices.

Other Articles of Help:

Tag Cloud