Hidden Hurt Domestic Abuse Information

Religion and Domestic Violence


Why consider the religious or spiritual issues of Religion and Domestic Violence? Because these are fundamental not only to the believing victim and abuser as well as their Church, but also to all those who live in a culture which is largely based upon Christian moral values and traditions.

I want people to realize that it isn't RARE, that it isn't something that only happens with the addicted, the poverty struck. That it happens in churches. Just because someone may claim to love Jesus, we are all fallen. Thomas was a Christian, but he was messed up all the same. I am a Christian young woman, but the powers of an abusive relationship are deep. They are intense, and they are terrifying. (Abigail's Story)
Religious people across all denominations are not exempt from Domestic Abuse, however, there appears to be a serious lack of understanding regarding abuse and the dynamics of abusive relationships and their impact upon the lives of people involved within churches and demoninations generally.

When considering Religion and Domestic Violence we have to realise that religious or spiritual factors are central to the victim's understanding and response. His/her own faith and the support of Church members can be vital in helping the healing process, while a lack of understanding regarding the Biblical perspective on abusive relationships by the victim or those he/she turns to for spiritual guidance and support can add to the emotional, physical and financial hurdles already faced. 

Many women in abusive relationships feel they ought to submit to their husbands out of duty, that they have no right over their own body, life or even opinions. Quite often this misconception is furthered by advice from clergy, elders, rabbis or other members of the Church or congregation. Some men may feel trapped by their beliefs in an abusive relationship, unsure of their position towards their wives or girl-friends. Some men may feel that unless they lord it over their partners, they are not doing as they ought to in the sight of God, that their position is one of Master, of Lord of the household. Often quotations or excerpts from the Bible are used to justify abusive behaviour, or the suppression by one member of the household of another. This in itself is a form of spiritual abuse.

Does God Want me to Stay?

Christian victims of domestic violence face the same hurdles to leaving an abusive relationship as do other victims, but they also have religious or biblical concerns, which make it difficult even getting to the stage of admitting abuse is happening without fearing 'eternal condemnation'. We may also ask ourselves whether our experience within the relationship is what God intended for us, whether being fearful in our marriage is an aspect of love?

Spiritual Obstacles to Ending an Abusive Relationship - some of the spiritual struggles faced by one Christian wife facing an abusive marriage.

There is No Fear in Love by Diane Stelling - looks at God's Words on fear and love and at how we can apply them in assessing the health of our relationship.

What about Forgiveness?

I do forgive my ex-husband, and I wish him well, but I'm glad I don't have to be part of his life or his family anymore, and I don't like the kids having too much contact with him because I consider him a bad influence, especially on the boys. (May's Story)
One of the main dilemnas facing both the victim of abuse and the Church leaders and/or members when dealing with the perpetrator of Domestic Violence, is the question of Forgiveness. Should we forgive the abuser unconditionally? How do we tell if repentance has taken place? Should the acts be forgiven and forgotten? For the victim, is it her/his duty to forgive each incident, act as though nothing had happened and continue to put herself/himself at risk from the abuser? Do we need to be forgiven ourselves and is that forgiveness available to us?

How to Help Abuse Victims Spiritually by Diane Stelling - looks at how important it is not for the abuse victim to be told that she/he is forgiven by Jesus, but that she/he is innocent in the eyes of God.

The Sin of Forgiveness - excerpted from 'The Survivor Activist', deals mainly with the response toward child abusers. However, the principles detailed are applicable to all sexual or violent abuse.

Responsibility of Church Leaders

Sometimes the Church leaders can help abused women make that final decision to escape the abuse, as in Charlotte's case: "I eventually told my church minister and with his advice came out of the marriage in October 2005 and have not returned even though he has pestered me to give him another chance." (Charlotte's Story)

Many victims of abuse turn to their church leader for advice on how to deal with the abuse, whether it is acceptable in the sight of the Lord to leave the abuser, is divorce an option which is acceptable to the Lord, can the Church help to stop the abuse, hold the abuser accountable, help to protect the victim and children? How then should the Elder, Priest, Rabbi or Priest respond? The following guidelines have been drawn up by the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Abuse, and provide vital advice for spiritual leaders of any Church or denomination trying to help both the abused and the abuser:

Responding to Domestic Violence: Guidelines for Pastors and Rabbis

How understanding of abuse issues is your Church?

Very, they have been a great help to me.

Okay, they understand but don't really know how to help.

They don't really understand or help much.

Bad, they don't understand at all.

Dreadful, they have been quite condemning.

Have not approached my Church.

  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

The Mission Statement by the organisation 'Christians for Biblical Equality', states clearly and with plenty of references back to the Bible, just what the position of both Men and Women is in relation to each other, in Church, in Society and in the Family, and makes an excellent starting-point for those confused about or interested in clarifying their positions within the context of their Church or creed.

Since a lot of the spiritual abuse found within the contxt of domestic violence stems directly from a misunderstanding of our relative position in the context of God, man and woman, this mission statement is a good starting point for trying to claryfiy our relative positions and deconstruct the false premisis we have been living our religious life under.

Please check out the article under the following link:

Men, Women and Biblical Equality

Articles and other websites which may also be of interest:

Not Under Bondage - by Barbara Roberts - check out the Freebies section for various articles

Spiritual Needs of Abuse Victims - website by Diane Stelling

Biblical Submission within Marriage by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis

Bible Verses for People in Times of Stress by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis

Divorce & Remarriage in the Bible by David Instone-Brewer - A number of articles on Marriage and Divorce, written clearly and precisely and, above all, dealing with the matters Scripturally. A MUST VISIT LINK.

Because It Matters ~ Freedom in Christianity a webblog written by a Christian surivor of domestic abuse which covers all sort so topics from dometic violence to abuse by the clergy,


Return from Religion and Domestic Violence to Hidden Hurt Home.

In This Section:

Related Pages:

Abigail's Story
Charlotte's Story
Kiara's Story
May's Story

christian woman vowing

What does the Bible say about Religion and Domestic Abuse?

Many people believe that the Bible does not deal with the issues of violence and abuse, that DV is a modern problem and therefore God is silent on it in Scripture. Yet human nature does not change with time, and while the LORD condemned violence and offered hope and comfort to the oppressed 2000+ years ago, His words are just as current now as they were in the time of the Prophets or Jesus.

The Bible on Abuse and Violence - a collection of quotations from the Bible dealing with God's attitude to abuse (oppression), violence, the victim and the abuser, and the responsibilities of the Church.

The Christian woman whose spirit is being crushed by domestic violence is faced with a unique burden. She needs straight answers - not unrealistic expectations or stereotypical platitudes. "Woman Submit!" by Jocelyn Andersen provides straight answers and clear scriptural direction.

To order in the US: Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence (also available for Kindle)

To order in the UK: Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence

God is love, and God’s love for us is unconditional. God wants us to love him, but gives us the freedom to make that choice. God does not force us to love him. If someone is afraid in a relationship, then that is not love. Everyone deserves a violence-free life. No one deserves to be beaten and humiliated. If a person in a relationship has to worry that something she said or did might “set him off,” if she is always “walking on eggshells,” or “waiting for the other shoe to drop,” or afraid of how he is going to verbally tear her down, then that is not love. Fear and love cannot coexist. If someone is afraid, it is because they are afraid of punishment and retribution. And that is not love, because there is no fear in love. Read more ...
Sometimes Christian women get so bogged down in guilt and the need to save our marriage, that we forget to save ourselves. This book is a must read for anyone in an abusive marriage seeking spiritual guidance. Solid, Christlike interpretation of scripture will offer much needed inspiration and encouragement.

To order in the US: Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse

To order in the UK: Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse




UK National Domestic Violence Freephone number 0808 2000 247

Recommended Reading:

Sometimes Christian women get so bogged down in guilt and the need to save our marriage, that we forget to save ourselves. This book is a must read for anyone in an abusive marriage seeking spiritual guidance. Solid, Christlike interpretation of scripture will offer much needed inspiration and encouragement.

To order in the US: Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse

To order in the UK: Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse

When is divorce biblically permissible and when is it forbidden? And is remarriage ever permissible for a divorced Christian? The problem is particularly intense for Christian victims of marital abuse, who often believe they must choose between two unpleasant alternatives: endure abuse, or face condemnation by God and his church for disobeying the bible.

To order in the US: Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion

To order in the UK: Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion

I also spoke with people in the church about what was going on and the response was always to pray about it and try to be more "submissive". During this time I slipped further and further into depression, often feeling suicidal, and also shared this with people in the church. Again, they just prayed, and said God would work it out. This was another area where he was abusive, spiritually, often saying 'Why would God answer you? Look at you! You're so horrible, God wouldn't talk to you. You're in sin and God won't bless you. He blesses and uses me all the time.' For some time this destroyed my faith and relationship with God to the point where I stopped praying or trying. I started to believe that God saw me this way and that I must deserve his (my husband) abuse since I'm a "bad person". Read more ...
The Christian woman whose spirit is being crushed by domestic violence is faced with a unique burden. She needs straight answers - not unrealistic expectations or stereotypical platitudes. "Woman Submit!" by Jocelyn Andersen provides straight answers and clear scriptural direction.

To order in the US: Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence (also available for Kindle)

To order in the UK: Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence

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